THE GIFTS OF GRIEF

Grief is like births in many ways. The first is usually the hardest.

By the time I’d lost the third member of my immediate family, I knew what to expect. It didn’t make the pain any less, or the process any easier.

I learnt a lot though. Everything I’ve learnt about grief, how it works and how you can help yourself feel even a little bit better, I’ve put into my book – A Guide Through Grief – First Aid for Your Heart and Soul.

A few years ago I had a piece from it published through UPLIFT CONNECT.

The Gifts of Grief. You can read it HERE

Because grief is a gift. A terrible, awful gift we are all given at some point in our lives.

I hope my stories bring you comfort.

If you live in Brisbane come along to my MOVING THROUGH GRIEF workshop this Sunday 22 November at the Relaxation Centre in Alderley. Only $25!

Whether you’re grieving the loss of a person, a dog, a job, a marriage, or if you’re just struggling to stay afloat during this crazy mess of a year, this workshop will help.

Lots of love,

Edwina

Writing Grief

A wise writer once said that grief is the primary impetus for writing. It is certainly what forced me to sit down and bring the stories out of my head onto the page back when I started writing in 2002.

Through writing out the pain of my losses I began to heal.

By reimagining the circumstances and outcomes of my losses, I was able to glimpse another way of being.

By helping others to write out the pain of their hearts, my own heart began to mend.

We write to bear witness to our own pain, to leave a mark for those we love who didn’t have the time or inclination or the power to make their own. As writers we have the power to do all this. 

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We can free ourselves from the endless reruns of traumatic moments in our lives by recording them on the page. But even more than this, by applying the magic of the imagination to the unchangeable facts of our losses, we can transform those stories into meaning. We can create hope and joy where perhaps none existed.

Better yet, the power of the imagination is so strong that the brain, after a while, can no longer differentiate between memories and our imaginings so our gentler, kinder, more hopefully imaginings begin to temper the trauma of the truth.

I have always written to search out or create meaning from the losses in my life. And it has worked. I write my way into being. I write my way through emotions I can’t understand. By finding the right words, by giving my story structure and form, by giving my pain to imagined characters, I am able to leave behind my attachment to these stories of loss.

I am able to create beauty from what had previous only felt like ugliness.

So write! Write out your pain. Reimagine the stories you tell yourself and transform them. Create beauty from the darkness.

That is our power as writers.

“To see that your life is a story while you’re in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well.” 

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If you need help getting started or are floundering in grief and need a helping hand, I’ve just released my new book A Guide Through Grief, which I hope will help you through.

You can buy it directly from Amazon as an eBook or Print on Demand if you are outside Australia, eBook only within Australia

If you’d like a hard copy here in Australia just CONTACT ME and I’ll send you one. Soon you’ll be able to purchase directly from my website.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the self-same well from which your laughter rises is oftentimes filled with tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy it can contain.”

Kahil Gibran

Sending lots of love your way ,

Edwina xxx

Big Moomin hug

CRAFTING WORDS WORKSHOP SEPTEMBER 20 AVID READER

WRITING YOUR WAY INTO A STORY WORKSHOP AT AVID READER

SEPTEMBER 20 2020 10 am – 1 pm

I’m thrilled to announce my first Avid Reader workshop. Avid Reader is my fabulous local bookstore that is the beating heart of West End where I live. The wonderful Fiona Stager and her team of writer-booksellers have created a lively writing community and a bookstore full of the very best of Australian and International writing.

Not only that, they do a great job supporting local writers as well, with a number of us launching our books in store. Or through them virtually now Covid has made things tricky.

Launching Raymond Evan’s poetry collection last year.

Join me at this Zoom workshop where we will use yoga techniques to free our imaginations and write our way into and through a story!

Get into the heart and body of your characters and learn how to shape plot from character goals, traits and failings. Filled with all my best hints and tips, this is a workshop you’ll leave inspired with the beginnings of a story, if not a full first draft.

I’d love to see you! Let me help you get rid of that critical voice. Get all your writing questions together and ask away.

Let’s get writing!

WRITING PROMPTS FOR QUARANTINE!

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Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, in these crazy days of limited movement and social interaction, we still have a great power that no one can take away from us – our imaginations!

Yes! Through our imaginations we can still wander, all over the world if we like. We can create miracles, climb mountains, swim to the bottom of the deepest oceans and all without expensive equipment.

All we need is a little time and the ability to daydream. Never has dreaming and imagining been so important. We need to envision a new peaceful and positive way forward for our world, so that all this grief and loss brings good and long-lasting healing to our beautiful planet and all her people and animals.

So here are a few prompts to help get you started on using your imagination and letting it take you to places you may never have been before.

Your Favourite Place in Nature

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We may not be able to get out much these days but in our minds, we can still travel to our favourite places.

Close your eyes, focus on your breathing and take yourself to your special place, your favourite swimming hole or beach or forest or dessert or field of poppies.

Use your five senses.

What colours and shapes can you see? What is the quality of the light? When you look up what do you see? Look down. Look all the way around, stretch the working of your mind’s eye.

What can you hear? Is there the trickle of water, or the wash of waves against the shore? Are leaves rustling in the breeze? Can you hear birds singing, animals foraging in the undergrowth? Maybe you hear voices? You can have companions on these mind journeys too.

What can you smell? Is the air salty, or sweet and musty from the lush undergrowth of the forest? Maybe you smell pine trees, or the fresh sweetness of mountain water.

What do you feel? Is the sun warm on your back? The breeze soft on your face? The earth deep and yielding under your feet? Sand gritty between your toes? Water fresh and tingling on your skin.

What can you taste? How does the air taste in your mouth? Take a mouthful of that mountain stream, taste the sweetness of the water.

And how does it all feel in your heart? How does being in this special place make you feel emotionally?

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Once you have envisioned it all and dwelt there awhile in your imagination then get writing and fill in all those specific sensory details to bring your special place to life so that anyone reading your piece will feel as if they have been there with you.

All the Good that Will Come from This

 This is a wonderful exercise to do whenever you feel yourself stuck in a difficult situation, as we all are right now. Use your imagination to see a positive and powerful new future for us all. Even in the midst of all the tragedy now unfolding in many places, there is still good. There is still hope.0f8acd5ce0202400b9c03a0dc86b808f

Close your eyes again and envision all the potential for healing and the creation of new and better ways of being which can come from this enforced pause of human activity.

For me the ozone layer healing is a great and wonderful positive that I hope we’ll find a way to maintain. Plus we’re all getting a chance to slow down and pull back from some of the many hectic activities that usually fill our days. This situation has certainly brought into focus what’s most important to us. What we value most. And for many of us, it’s our people, our family and friends. Spending more time with family is also, in most cases a lovely plus to come from all of this. On my daily walks I’m seeing more and more people out enjoying nature now the gyms have closed. Another positive. People are pursuing more creative arts, learning new skills, learning to meditate or do yoga, playing musical instruments that have been collecting dust for years. Gardening. All these small things as well as big things like ceasefires, and fresh air and blue skies over cities that haven’t seen a blue sky in decades. All these and so many more.

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Write a list of at least 10 good things that can come from this. If you’d like to you could develop this into a short story about a utopian future, a future where we create a new world where resources are shared, greed is no more, and all the world lives in peace and harmony with each other and with nature.

 

Write Yourself Friends

 For many people this is a very lonely time. Especially for those who live alone. It’s at times like this we really need our friends and hugs.images

You can write a letter to a real-life friend, telling them all the things you value about them and remembering some good times that you shared. Post it the old-fashioned way and give them a treat in the mailbox.

 

Or you can imagine a whole new friend for yourself, a best friend, a lover even.

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What do they look like? What kind of clothes do they wear? Why do you like them? What do they do for work? What makes them so special to you? Flesh them out like you would a character, fill in all those little details, star sign, sense of humour. Create the perfect online profile of someone you’d just love to meet.

Then imagine meeting them, hanging out and doing something fun.

Write the story of that first meeting, that buzz of electricity when you meet someone you click with. Whether it’s platonic or romantic, there’s still a rare thrill that comes from meeting a kindred spirit.

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So write away. Get them to tell you what they like about you too.

And remember, you can write yourself as many hugs as you need!

What have you been writing during this strange time? Have you been able to write?

Your imagination is a powerful tool. As writers we know how to use it – now wield your power for good.

Write up a storm and keep smiling. Let me know how you go with the writing prompts!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

UPCOMING EVENTS: 2020 REGIONAL TOUR of QLD. YIPPEE!

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I’m super excited to announce that through February and March (with more planned for later in the year) I’ll be travelling around my home state of Queensland running workshops for people who suffered abuse in institutional care, as part of my work at Lotus Place. This wonderful project is organised and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects. If you identify with having been abused in institutional care you are most welcome to attend. Please just ring Lotus Place first to get in touch and confirm your attendance. I’d love to help you get those stories out of your head and onto the page.

While I’m on tour I’ll also be holding some Bjelke Blues events – all free and open to everyone. So do come along and say hi.

While I’m in Cairns I’ll also be running a Life Writing Workshop in partnership with Cairns Tropical Writers and QWC is hosting a Memoir workshop in Esk. So if you live out woop-woop (as we like to say here) please come along and get writing!

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THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

MONDAY FEBRUARY 3rd 10 am – 3:30 pm at Bundaberg Regional Library

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along should ring Lotus Place on 3347 8500 to check eligibility.

Bjelke Blues AUTHOR TALK

TUESDAY February 4th 10 – 11 am

Bundaberg Regional Library

ALL WELCOME! FREE! But book your spot here

TOWNSVILLE

Bjelke Blues AUTHOR TALK

SUNDAY February 9th 10:30 – 11:30 am

MARY WHO Bookstore. 414 Flinders St, Townsville QLD 4810

FREE but please phone MARY WHO to book  (07) 4771 3824

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

MONDAY FEBRUARY 10th 10 am – 3:30 pm at Lotus Place NQ, 382 Sturt Street, Townsville Q 4810

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

CAIRNS

Bjelke Blues PANEL DISCUSSION

Wednesday February 12th 10am -11 am Cairns Central Library

Hosted by the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival. With local contributors Christine Howes, Chris Morris and Bill Wilkie, FREE BUT BOOK HERE

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 13th. 10 am – 3:30 pm at Cairns Central Library

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

LIFE WRITING WORKSHOP

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 15th. 10 am – 12:30 pm at Stratford Library, Cairns

Come along and explore your creativity with this half day workshop guaranteed to get you writing!

$35 or $30 for QWC or Tropical Writers members.

See here for more info and to book 

ESK

MEMOIR WORKSHOP ESK:

February 22 2020-  9:30am – 12:30pm: Esk Library

FREE! Proudly brought to you by the QLD WRITERS CENTRE

SEE HERE TO BOOK   

Esk Library PHONE 07 5424 4080

BOOK YOUR SPOT NOW!

MACKAY

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

MONDAY MARCH 9th: 10 am – 3:30 pm at Jubilee Community Centre, Gordon Street, Mackay  

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

ROCKHAMPTION

THE HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOP.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 9th: 10 am – 3:30 pm at ??

DETAILS FOR THIS WORKSHOP ARE YET TO BE CONFIRMED  

This is a Lotus Place/ Micah Project – strictly only for participants who have experienced abuse in an institutional setting, out of home care included. It is free for participants and funded by the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce and Micah Projects.

People wanting to come along, please contact Lotus Place NQ on 4724 2559 or email lotusnq@micahprojects.org.au to check eligibility.

ADDITIONAL HEALING POWER OF STORY WORKSHOPS ARE PLANNED FOR LATER IN THE YEAR in BRISBANE, TOOWOOMBA, GYMPIE AND on the GOLD COAST.

BOONAH

BUILDING YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER WORKSHOP

SUNDAY 3 MAY 9am – 12:30 as part of the Boonah Writers Festival

Register for the Boonah Writer’s festivalto join the fun weekend of writing and hobnobbing with writers 🙂

And so on… I’ll keep you posted!

RETREAT REPLETE!

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Me, Lalita and the lovely Bianca!

Just back from the latest wonderful Relax and Write Retreat at Burleigh Heads with a fabulous group of women, from first time explorers trying out their writing legs to experienced authors with published books under their belts.

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As always, I was inspired by how quickly new friendships formed and how everyone worked together to help each other with their projects.

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Maria, Kathy and Jude – triple retreaters!

The weekend was action packed with workshops, feedback sessions, yoga and dance.

This time though retreaters had a whole lot more free time to explore the beautiful beaches and rainforest surroundings. I even managed to sneak in a swim myself. YAY! The water was warm even very early in the morning. And so clean. Ah.

I loved having dance instructor extraordinaire, Lalita Lakshmi, from Spiced Tingle Dance along to lead us through some really fun dance sessions. Thank you Lalita. Yoga to calm us down and stretch out, and dancing to rev us back up again. With blissful body-work treatments from Monique DeGoey from  Reconnect Holistic Body Work leaving people floating. Thank you Monique.

This retreat, workshops were focused on structuring for success and publishing pathways for those with major projects underway. It also included individual feedback sessions which I really loved. It was fascinating to learn more about the stories I’d been privileged to read and edit, and discover the inspiration and hard work behind them.

I enjoyed giving feedback on a wide range of projects from heart-wrenching memoirs, to thrillers, to sci-fi, to YA mermaids. I loved reading and discussing them with their authors and hopefully I was able to provide some useful ideas to help the projects shine and move towards publication.

Thank you to the magnificent Maria Parenti-Baldey (a triple retreater – I had 3 triple retreaters along this time) who filmed my gentle guided mediation to boost confidence and creativity which is now up on YouTube. Use it whenever your critical voice is getting too loud, you’re feeling blocked, or even if you’re nervous going somewhere you’ve never been before. Please do feel free to share it around.

The retreats always seem to come to an end too quickly – and this time it really did! We ran out of time to do our customary collages – so I hope all my new mermaids are having fun getting stuck into it at home. Here’s what Kim came up with.

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Kim’s collage

Thank you so much to the lovely folk at CYC Burleigh especially our handsome host Joel who spoilt us rotten with hot chocolates and real coffee. Think he just scored himself a whole new set of aunties.

Every time I come home after camp I’ve made a whole lot of fabulous new friends who share my love of writing. A wonderful tribe of women writers.

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UPCOMING RETREATS

I’ve got three retreats planned for next year.

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  1. Relax and Write in the Mountains – March 27- 29 2020 at Camp Koojarewon among the trees in Highfields, just north of Toowoomba.

This retreat is best for writers of memoir and/or those who are new to writing. Workshops include lots of writing prompts and exercises, including the basics of how to build a story step by step, plus some general writing tips. HURRY! Places for this one are already filling fast as several retreaters from Burleigh have already got their hands up.

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  1. Relax and Write in Paradise – June 19-21 2020 at Amaroo Resort on beautiful Magnetic Island.

Escape the winter blues and really spoil yourself with this retreat for more experienced writers- though beginners are welcome too. Workshops focus on character and plot development, with lots of writing exercises. I especially welcome writers from the region. Because the rest of us have to travel so far, I highly recommend bring a friend or two and staying on at Amaroo (they offer bargain rates for retreaters) or in a holiday rental for another week to work on your writing projects. I just love Magnetic Island. It’s magical.

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  1. Relax and Write NANOWRIMO – dates and venue yet to be finalised. NOVEMBER 2020.

This camp is best for more experienced writers with a first draft of a full-length project either completed or underway. Individual feedback sessions are available and workshops are heavily craft focused, theory based and practical exploring publishing options.

You can book into any of the retreats for 2020 right now by dropping me a line and paying the $200 deposit. Please specify which retreat you’re interested in. Participant numbers are strictly limited to 15 so I can give everyone the attention they deserve.

Contact me with your retreat preference and I’ll send you my details to pay by direct deposit – preferred.

Or PAY YOUR DEPOSIT HERE and email me with your retreat preference.

Come along and join our group of happy campers! Treat yourself to a 2020 retreat this Christmas. Better yet – get someone else to give you a wonderful present you’ll really enjoy.

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Put yourself in this picture.

 

Please do get in touch if you’re struggling financially and we’ll work something out so you can come too. Helena and I first started these retreats because we couldn’t afford to go to any of the fancy ones we saw advertised, so the accommodation isn’t posh, but the workshops and people are first class! (We like to think so anyway)

A big thank you to all my lovely mermaids, wood nymphs and happy campers for making these retreats a true joy to facilitate.

Lots of love

Edwina xxx

NEW STORIES OUT!!

Very excited to announce that two of my stories have recently been published in international journals. YAY!!!!

“Something No One Else Can See” is available to read for free HERE

It’s set in the cane fields of far north QLD where I spent a lot of time as a child.

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And my story “Against the Roaring of the Fire” has been published by Third Flatiron in its Hidden Histories anthology. This story was inspired by my recent trip to Scotland and its dark history of witch hunts.

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YAY! Two stories out in one day!! Won’t mention the pile of rejections that accompanied these two. But it’s all worth it for the ones that make it and get read.

Let me know what you think!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

 

PROCRASTINATION, PERFECTIONISM AND A HARSH INNER CRITIC: The Enemies of Writing and How to Defeat Them!

 

 

Do you put off writing until after the whole house is cleaned, including sorting out those kitchen cupboards and scrubbing the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush

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Do you start writing but then never get very far past the first paragraph because you can’t get it quite right and that first sentence is so sucky? Do you feel too inadequate to even start writing, even though you’ve secretly wanted to all your life? Or do you finally write something, but then tear it to shreds and bin it before it’s even had a chance to breathe?

Don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. Every writer faces these demons – the holy trinity of FEAR. That’s really what these deadly (well to your writing anyway) sins boil down to – plain old boring fear

 Procrastination

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Procrastination is a protective device. If you put something off long enough, you’ll never have to write it, or you’ll have being rushed as an excuse for when you decide that it’s utter crap and that you’re as talentless as you thought. If that sounds like you, then your procrastination is really harsh inner critic lurking in the background just waiting for you to finish the housework and probably complaining about how you’re doing it too – look there’s a spot you missed!

But hang on a minute, what if it’s not crap? What if actually for a first draft it’s pretty damned good? What if writing it was the most fun you’ve had in ages? Certainly a whole lot more fun than cleaning the bathroom.

Perfectionism

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Perfectionism won’t ever let you finish anything. Because if it’s not perfect, and how actually can anything be, then it’s not any good at all. That first sentence demands to be rewritten a hundred times, so you never get any further into your story. Even if you do get all the way through, perfectionism won’t ever let you submit it anywhere because it’s never quite right. Never quite good enough.

Guess what? Perfectionism is just another protection device – protecting you from the criticism of others while you beat yourself up with your own, much harsher, criticism. It’s another face of that horrid inner critic trying to stop you making a fool of yourself.

Well thanks, but no thanks. Because nothing is ever really perfect. Ask any writer, any artist. There’s always something you can fix or change, even with published work. At some point though, you just have to let it go. Step back and send it out into the world.

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“Feel the fear and do it anyway,” as Susan Jeffers famously said in her book of the same name.

 

Fear used to serve us well. When we lived in caves, fear told us to stay away from that cave where the beast lived and not to eat that berry that made Aunty so sick. But these days most of our fears have become internalised and turn into anxiety. It’s not really our friend any more.

Fear has many faces. Most horribly it is the face of our harsh inner critic.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Mary Philbin, Lon Chaney, 1925

Your Inner Critic and how to tame it.

Like fire, inner critics are wonderful servants but terrible masters. To write successfully, critics must be tamed and trained and forced to play nicely with our delicate creator selves in order to make our writing the best it can be. The craft of writing demands a domesticated critic to edit our messy first drafts, but that’s later. First, we have to get that messy first draft written.

Inner critics can be fatal to writing. First drafts need freedom – when we create we’re playing and mucking around, making stuff up. We don’t need a nasty critic hanging over our shoulder whispering abuse. I like to send mine from the room!

It helps to know the face of your enemy.

rabid_squirrel_postcard-r5105695b7151488c9754e7b5013d2197_vgbaq_8byvr_307One writer described her critic as rabid squirrels in camouflage gear. Another described his as a giant, grumpy, old geezer. It could be a mean older sister, or a stern father who thinks doing anything creative is a waste of time. Mine looks like my third-grade teacher. A nun in a habit. With a ruler. She always liked to pull me down a peg or two

Following is a writing exercise to help you pull your inner critic a peg or two – or three or four (or more.)

 

WRITE: Your Inner Critic

Set your timer for ten minutes and write about your inner critic.

Was it your mum who was always finding fault, or was it that awful teacher in high school who tore your short story to pieces in front of the class?

Whether your critic is based on a real person or is a monster from nightmares, a dragon with gnashing teeth dripping with blood, get it down on paper. If there is a specific incident you remember, or a particularly bad attack from your critic, then write that down too. Get into the meaty details. Take more time if you need to. If you’d like to, draw a picture. What you do with this picture is up to you. You can burn it, or shred it, or put a big red cross through it, but perhaps if it’s your mum maybe just stick a bit of plaster over her mouth!

smoking nunsOnce you have this clear picture in mind you can begin to train your critic. You can train them to leave the room. Trick the squirrels with some peanuts and tempt them into another room while you get a first draft done. Tell the old fart you’ll let him have his turn in a while, after you’ve written your five hundred words for the day. Take the ruler out of the nun’s hand and send her to confession (or out for a smoke) for the few hours you have available for writing. If they know they’ll be allowed back later, they will, most likely, go happily. If they start skulking back, however, then gently remind them that this time is yours, they’ll be welcome in a while.

In my workshops, retreats and even at the creative writing classes I teach at university, I always start with a guided relaxation to help participants send that critic from the room. I’ve found the results to be outstanding.

Try it for yourself!

RELAX: Meditation for removing your inner critic

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Sit and breathe deeply, bringing your attention inwards, then slowly relax your whole body. Once you’re relaxed, visualise your critic and imagine sending them from the room. I like to send them to the nearest body of water and drop them in there. Don’t worry they always find their way back in time for the next draft!

I’m working on a recording of the guided meditation I use in workshops. If you’d like to be kept in the loop and be one of the first to use it then click HERE.

Once you’ve sent your critic away, then I like to set a timer. 10 minutes, half an hour. It helps give me that sense of urgency procrastinators thrive on (procrastinator – who me?). Then WRITE! Write like a fury. Write like you’ve only got 10 minutes until the world ends and you’ve just got to get your story down. Spelling and punctuation don’t matter. Just go where your brain flow takes you. Follow tangents, explore weird things that pop up. Let the story show you where it wants to go.

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Nothing matters in that first draft except being in the flow and trusting your own creativity. Remember – Writing is fun! Creating is playing. Take all the pressure off and enjoy yourself mucking around with words and making up stories.

 Let go and let the words flow!

Let me know how you go. Did these techniques work for you? What other tricks do you know forgetting those first drafts done? Are you a procrastinator or a perfectionist – or both. What does your inner critic look like?

If you’d like to experience just how freeing doing a guided relaxation and meditation can be for liberating your creativity and getting you writing, then please contact me HERE for information about my upcoming RETREATS.

Or sign on HERE to get regular updates and hints and tips for your writing.

GOOD LUCK taming those critics.

Happy writing!

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Lots of love,

Edwina xx

What is a writer’s “VOICE” and how to find yours.

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When I first started writing I kept hearing this mysterious term “voice”,mainly in the many rejections I received. Publishers would inevitably say something along the lines of, my “voice wasn’t developed.” It drove me mad. What did they mean? It was me writing, not anyone else. It took me a while to figure out that voice in creative writing terms just means a writer’s own particular style.

Put simply, which is how I like things, it means unadulterated plain old you on the page. Not you trying to be smarter or funnier or fancier than you are. Just you – the way you would talk to your best friend, the way you’d write a letter to someone who’s known you all your life. In my work with new writers I often come across people who think they have to use a whole lot of big words and mountains of adjectives and metaphors to sound “Writerly”. Which brings me to my first point.

Forget about being Writerly!

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Fancy may work for some people who are born that way, or lived a hundred years ago but these days it’s best just to write as you would speak. Of course you can throw in the occasional unique metaphor and fabulous big word, but most of the time, keep it simple.

YOU are enough just the way you are.

Yes, that’s you. Your life and all you’ve lived and who you’ve become because of it is totally unique in the whole world. No one else can write your stories because only you can tell them in your own special way echoing all those experiences. If you grew up swinging around on a hills hoist washing line being sprayed with a hose, the story you tell about childhood is going to be very different to the person who slammed face first into a tree in a tobogganing accident. Claim who you are and let that shine through. The specific details of your life can reveal universal truths.

Once you’ve claimed your voice, everyone who reads your stories will say, “Oh that’s so and so, I’d know her voice anywhere.” Editors will accept your work for publication and say, “Great unique voice”. YES! That’s what we’re aiming for.

 

 

 

But how to do it?

Read on.

TOOLS for developing your unique voice
1. Free writing

Write whatever comes into your head, stream of consciousness style. No stopping, don’t let your pen leave the page. Set a time for five minutes and just go for it, no editing, no fiddling with grammar, no checking spelling. If you don’t know a word then just put a question mark beside it. Even if you’re only writing “I don’t’ know what to write, this is silly, that’s fine. You can complain as much as you like, just keep writing. Find a writing prompt, set a timer, and go for your life. Write as fast and as much as you can in those five minutes. You’ll be surprised what you can do. Get used to writing rubbish 😊 Once you’re used to that, then you’re free to go! You will need to edit what comes out later, but just think of all the words you’ll have to play with.
2. Keep a journal

Use the free-writing technique to write a journal. Every day write at least an A4 page by hand, letting words flow off the top of your head onto the page. The more you write, the more natural your voice becomes. If you are too busy to do this every day, every second day will do. Writing, like anything else, is all about practice. The more you practice the better you get. The more you get used to writing completely naturally without thinking about sounding flash or clever, the more your natural voice will emerge.
3. Look at emails, letters or texts you send friends

Are they different to the way you’ve being trying to write stories/ poems etc? Do you sound like you? If you feel uncomfortable writing in any form it may not. But I’m guessing if you’ve picked this book up then you’re a writing kind of a person and those messages to your friends and family are lighter and more natural than the artificial voice you may have been trying to put on for your writing. Next time you write a story pretend you’re writing to a friend instead of some imaginary publisher.
4. WRITE!

Write every day, whenever you can. Scribble down what you see while you’re on the bus. Who is that strange woman in the purple hat and too much pink lipstick? What’s her story? Play with your imagination. Write down your dreams and give them another chapter. Fill notebooks with lots of messy writing about anything that takes your fancy. Write until it comes naturally.

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Have you found your voice yet? How do you know? I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to leave a comment.

If you’d like to receive more writing hints and tips, drop me a line here.

And if you’d like a whole weekend of writing and yoga to get those creative juices flowing then see HERE for my next retreat.

Until next time – HAPPY WRITING!

Lots of love
Edwina xx

YOGA AND WRITING -THE PERFECT PARTNERS

 writing ganesh

WHY YOGA AND WRITING TOGETHER?

People often ask why I combine yoga and writing at my retreats.

Yoga and writing are my twin passions. Making me choose between them is akin to forcing a mother to choose between her children –Sophie’s Choice style. Both yoga and writing are part of my daily life and have been for a very long time. Together they have helped me to heal my past and continue to keep me joyfully sane. They also make my writing richer and deeper.

From early childhood I’ve loved writing stories and I’ve been keeping a journal since my teens. Like most people though, I had that innate creativity squashed out of me by formal schooling. But I kept writing my diaries even if, during my most alcohol and drug addicted days, it was simply a way to remember what I’d done the day before.

Yoga came into my life in my early twenties. While I was travelling in Cambodia, a friend gave me a sheet of paper with the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series printed on it and every morning taught a few of us the sequence. That’s now over 25 years ago and I still get up and do my practice almost every single day. Having taught yoga for many years, I know how difficult it is to get students to commit to a daily practice, so I can only thank my addictive personality for keeping me on the mat. Addiction tamed is discipline 🙂 Don’t worry the yoga we do on retreat is much gentler!

ashtangayogaprimaryseriesyogateachertrainingchart

The motto of Ashtanga yoga is “Do your practice and all is coming” and I know now that this works for writing and other creative arts as well. Do your practice, do it regularly, keep focused, and all indeed will come, even if goals such as publication often take longer than we would like. The discipline of a daily yoga practice helped me to develop the discipline of a daily writing practice. Regular practice is how things happen. As one of my other favourite quotes says, “Persistence is the key!”

TOGETHER YOGA AND WRITING HAVE MANY BENEFITS.

On the practical side – writing is a sedentary profession and being stuck in front of a screen for hours is not the best for our health. Combining your daily writing practice with daily exercise is essential for maintaining your vitality. You can only function at a high level intellectually and imaginatively if you’re in good health. Yoga stretches out spines that have been hunched over keyboards, straightens necks that have been craning forward looking at screens, and gets hearts that have been lulled into sloth sitting for too long, pumping freely again.

 

Best of all, yoga helps shift emotions that have been stuck in your body. The postures have been designed to cleanse the body, not just of tension, but of deeper traumas held in our cells. Yoga brings to the surface bottled up feelings and life stories, which you can then release through writing. Not only that, by getting in touch with your bodily sensations through yoga, you’re better able to evoke emotion by expressing the visceral sensations associated with those emotions when you write.

WRITING IS A MEDITATIVE PRACTICE

Writing on a regular basis is a meditative practice, especially when you write stories from your life. Most of us have stories from our pasts that replay over and over again in our minds. Getting them onto the page and creating stories, something beautiful from the pain, frees them from our minds and makes room for new thoughts and new ways of being. Yoga brings the stories to the light, writing them down gets them out of your head and onto the page so you don’t have to keep reliving/retelling/rethinking those same old patterns. Together yoga and writing are the perfect tools for helping you heal your life and create something worthwhile in the process.

All creative arts help us to express the great mystery of human experience. For me the easiest way is with words, for others its drawing or dance or sculpture. Whichever artform you prefer is the place to start.

vintage women dancing

And of course, it’s not all just about healing our pasts, it’s about embracing the present as well. Yoga teaches us to live fully in the moment, to breathe deeply and relish each breath, to flow with life. When we’re fully immersed in writing a story or a poem or a screenplay we have moments where we are totally apart from ourselves, at one with the flow of our stories, the flow of creativity. Time doesn’t exist, thought doesn’t exist, we don’t exist – only the story.

That for me is pure joy.

So that’s why I combine yoga and writing on my retreats. Because the very best stories come from our hearts and that universal flow of creation we all share. The best way I know to tap into that flow is through yoga.

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Come along to a retreat and try the combination for yourself. See what stories your body is longing to tell. Rewrite your past and write yourself a bright and sparkling future.

How do you tap into that flow? Do you have any rituals that get you writing? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Lots of love
Edwina xx