WOOD NYMPHS AND STORIES FROM THE FOREST!

IMG_3545

A wonderful time was had by all at the latest Relax and Write Retreat up in the hills and among the trees at Highfields.

Fourteen women feasted and rested, stretched, danced, laughed, relaxed and wrote in good company.

The lovely folk at Camp Koojarewon took really good care of us, providing delicious vegetarian meals and treats. Everything was spotlessly clean and they built fires to keep us warm, making sure we were all well fed and comfy.

We had the whole camp to ourselves so even though we were in dorms we were able to spread out and have lots of space to ourselves. The ground were beautiful with lots of walks to explore.

Highlights for me were the crazy fun of scarf dancing and all the great writing that was done in the workshops. I especially loved our workshop out on the verandah where it felt like we were in a tree house.

Monique provided glorious healing massages, we ate like queens, and enjoyed the company of other writers, learning from each other and being inspired.

IMG_3478

Come along and join the fun at the next one.

RELAX AND WRITE ON MAGNETIC ISLAND – tropical far north Queensland. June 21 – 23 2019.

More information about that coming soon!

Contact me HERE if you’d like to be kept in the loop for retreat news and for writing hints and tips and publishing opportunities.

Until then – HAPPY WRITING! May the joy of the retreat wood nymphs be with you!

IMG_3546

lots of love

Edwina xx

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

Woman scrubbing

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

Add_Ons_Magnets-50_460x

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

gypsy-rose-lee-1941-women-at-typewriter

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.

feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway.jpeg

“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

meditating

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.

woman writing

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!

woman typing

 

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.

healed-heart-teddy.jpg

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

7 POWERFUL NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR WRITERS

New-Year-Wishes-2-1-1024x796

 

Happy New Year everyone – here’s hoping 2019 is the best year yet!

Here are a few powerful resolutions that will make a real difference on your writing adventures.

1. Make realistic goals.

When I first started writing my goals were huge and grandiose – things like “I’ll have a best-selling novel by the end of the year!!” Not only was this totally unrealistic, it ended up being depressing too when it didn’t happen. These days my goals are more like – Write a decent first draft of “Castaway”. That I can control.

2. Submit 10 points worth of stories.

Have you heard of the 10 points plan? My friend, writer Fiona Robertson, first put me onto it. Score yourself 1 point per story submitted, aiming to have 10 points worth out at any time. The more stories you have out the better your chances. It does mean you sometimes get a flurry of rejections, but as we know rejections are badges of honour – and mixed in will be a YES (or two)! You can wiggle it around too – 3 points for novels/ full length works, and Helena and I reckon all grant applications are worth 3 too – they’re not much fun to do. How many points do you have out right now?

book-piles

3. Read more books!

For me this means watching less crap TV. I can get hooked on the most ridiculous shows – did anyone say The Bachelor? I’m a sucker for romance. But really, it’s a waste of my precious time. I love reading all kinds of books and you can learn so much about writing – what to do, how to do and even what not to do. So instead of switching on the idiot box I’m going to open a book and read. How about you?

wishing well

4. Fill up your writer’s well.

Ernie Hemmingway first talked about writers having a well of inspiration that they draw from that they need to keep replenished with images, adventures and ideas. My recent trip to the UK has given me an overflowing supply of inspiration, story ideas, images, conversations and joy to keep me going. People who are familiar with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron will know that Artist’s Dates are usually the first things we let slide. I’m guilty as charged. But this year I’m determined to make more time for adventures and fun because I know it all helps my writing. Otherwise I’ll keep pumping my well dry and it will show in my work.

5. Take time out.

Writers need quiet time. Much as I love people, I really love solitude and silence as well. If I don’t get enough alone time, I start getting very grouchy. If that’s combined with no writing as well then— watch out! Take yourself off for an afternoon. Send the kids to grandmas and spend the day lying around in your pyjamas and staring at the ceiling if that’s all you have the energy to do. Take yourself on a solo retreat and write your heart out. Or find a week or weekend away with other writers that will fill your tank and renew your mojo. Here’s a link to find out about our next retreat if you’re tempted.

00813417.JPG

6. Be your own cheer squad and find others to cheer along with you.

Writers face a lot of criticism and rejection. We really don’t need a noisy inner critic dishing out more of the same – usually meaner and harsher than anything we get from others. Send your inner critic from the room or train her to be your best friend who believes in you and your writing no matter what. Train her to say – “You know I still really love that story – maybe if I just fiddle with it one more time and send it out again, I’ll get lucky.” I’m working on a YouTube deep relaxation to share with you to help quiet that nasty voice.  Connect with other like-minded writers to encourage and support you through the ups and downs of the writing life. Going to writing groups, workshops, festivals and retreats is a great way to meet writing buddies.

7. Keep a journal. journal writing.jpg

I’ve kept the most important till last. Dancers do stretches, artists do sketches, writers keep journals. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be three pages. A few lines every day, or every few days. But make sure it’s uncensored blah. Complaining, moaning, hoping, dreaming, remembering, planning, it all goes in. The main thing is to get used to writing fast and furiously without editing yourself or trying to sound “writerly”. Journaling is the best way I know to find your authentic voice.

What are your new year’s resolutions? Have you got any really good ideas that should be on this list? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Keep safe over the New Year’s festivities and write like furies!

Lots of love

Edwina

new year blank page

MERMAIDS

Waterhouse, John William, 1849-1917; A Mermaid

A Poem inspired by Relax and Write 2 by our lovely Nina Woodrow

in coloured glass chinks
the light gets in
through the cracks in everything small windows
gently open to show new glimpses
of old struggle and pain, courage and love
tinted by time
and the big fish swims by
in coloured glass chinks
the archetypes stand
and fall like neptune’s metropolis under the sea
death and grief making way
for brand new beginnings a city
decayed and reclaimed
and the big fish swims by
in coloured glass chinks
monuments are spoken
remembered, retold in spite of the tremor myths
way too big to swallow whole
are refracted with squinted eyes and
some kind of magic
and the big fish swims by
the mermaids
they have a way with big fish
and ruins under the sea
they sing them to sleep
with siren songs they plait their hair
and rearrange
the shells on their shore
till something new
is formed every time it seems
that this gentle light cant possibly
be enough but spells are cast
in moments
in single words
in hearts warmed with rose oil
and seaweed
and the tears
that finally find their season
and make their way
from the mountain
to the sea

NINA WOODROW March 2018