Welcome to your very own writing retreat

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Published: Thu 28 May 2020, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 May 2020, 12:12 AM

Have you always wanted to be accepted to a writing residency? Well, here's some news for you. You're in one. If you have a space to write, you can basically replicate what happens in most residencies. Of course, you're not going to be surrounded by other writers during isolation - but no matter. Writers usually keep to themselves anyway. So, here are some tips to get you started:
Write in fragments
It's difficult to create a sense of routine at this time, particularly when one day bleeds into the next. We are anxious and can't seem to escape our most terrifying thoughts. I would suggest you look a little closer at what scares you; observe how it arises and changes. Pick a particular moment, feeling or sensibility. Writing these down in fragments, particularly at the start, can be extremely helpful. This allows you to experiment, to begin to collect ideas. It's also less intimidating when the future feels uncertain.
Work with sensory deprivation
You might be sick of looking at the same walls and faces day after day. Use this as an opportunity to go deeper, to turn inward. Notice what is happening to the hibiscus growing in a pot outside your door. Try withdrawing from each sense individually. Touch fabric with your eyes closed. Isolate that sensation and write down what the experience is like.
Keep reading
You don't have to rush out and buy new books. Look at what's already on your shelves. Re-read authors you love and admire. Memorise a few of your favourite sentences or poems. Think of this as a diet of sorts. You will fill yourself up with good sentences and eventually you'll have an internal sense of how to form them.
Write anywhere
I really mean anywhere. We are all stuck at home, often in confined spaces. I have a child and, sometimes, I shut myself in the bathroom to scribble down an idea. The notebook you write in doesn't have to be perfect. A yellow legal pad will do. Even in the margins of a grocery list. The less precious you are about the conditions of writing, the easier it is to create those conditions.
Learn to say no
Isolating has given us some practice with staying in. Don't give that up. Continue to say no to fun parties, dinners and late nights. Get used to giving offence. Pretend that everyone is going to infect you with some virus. This sounds ruthless, but ruthless is what you need to be if you want to have time to write. Be comfortable being an outsider. It's a great perspective to write from.

By Avni Doshi

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