Week 2 of my May Gibbs residency. This week I’m going out each day to do writing and poetry workshops with kids in schools. I’ve been out near Ipswich, up towards the Sunshine coast and learned to work a TomTom navigator! (If you’re not going to be the driver, then the next job is navigating, of course.) Rather than stop me writing, this makes me more determined to write as soon as I get back to my retreat apartment.
It’s great to work with the kids – many of whom “hate” writing because they don’t know how to do it – and give them a bunch of tools for both poetry and story writing. Get past those initial blocks and we start having fun. And producing a lot of writing. I’ve mostly been working with Grade 6 and 7, and been glad to see plenty of volunteers busting to read their writing.
As for my own, I started keeping a writing diary, for several reasons. One was that I didn’t want to get home and think – what on earth did I actually write? So I know that as of today (Day 11) I’ve written about 11,000 words of two different novels, about 18 poems and a picture book. More importantly, I’ve done a lot of thinking, staring out at the church roof next door and the buildings in the distance. I’ve also done a fair bit of walking, to counteract the effects of writing on a laptop.
A retreat is definitely worthwhile considering. I know writers who book themselves into a motel or hotel for a weekend or a week, or go and stay at a friend’s holiday house. Others go away with fellow writers and use each other as “prods” to keep writing. Anything that takes you into a writing space is worth doing.
Life is over-full. For those of us who communicate for a living, the very things we use every day – the internet, email, phones – become the things that intrude into all our leisure time, the time we might use for writing, and suck it away. I’ve been internet-connected while here, but it has been so much easier to turn it off, to turn the phone off, to give myself quiet time with nothing else to do but create.
If you’ve been wanting to take some time out to write, now is the time to plan it. It’s funny how when you are on a May Gibbs retreat/residency, every time you explain it to someone, their eyes light up and they wish they, too, could do this. Well, all I can say is – do it. Find a place to stay for a week or a weekend, book yourself in, plan ahead with your writing project and GO!