Emma Pignatiello: I Was Given Permission to Just Write
The KSP gravel driveway through the overhang of lush green trees is a portal into another world.
It is difficult to describe the other-worldly experience of the cottage and Katharine’s house and how much this bleeds into your writing when you’re staying here.
I was terrified of the blank page when I sat down that first morning but there is something about the surrounds of KSP and the spirituality of the place that evaporated those fears and I was given permission to just write. I was excited to come to my desk every day, excited about the characters and the plot and I became utterly immersed in the world of my manuscript. There is no way I could have replicated this experience anywhere else. There is no way that the book would have flown so effortlessly from my fingertips if I was back home, trying to cram 500 words in at 8pm at night after a full day of work and parenting. I hope this means the quality of the final draft will be better. It has definitely increased my confidence about this manuscript and since my time at KSP I have been hitting higher word counts every day because I am still immersed in that world that I was able to create during my retreat.
The workshops run by Laurie Steed were out of this world incredible. Laurie has a way of zooming in on the issues of your manuscript you sort of know are there but haven’t been able to articulate exactly what they are or how to fix them. His passion for writing and belief in his students propels you forward into the scary, dark, mysterious world of writing in which he is the guiding light!
I’m also so grateful to fellow retreat participants Mark and Nadine for the laughs, advice and encouragement. I just know big things are right around the corner for all of us.
I was able to finish a big portion of my structural edit during my retreat and I attribute this to the magic of KSP, giving me the momentum and permission to just write.
Thank you KSP, I would not be where I am today with this manuscript if it wasn’t for you!
Top 10 Tips for writing:
1. Write the story you want to write not the story you think you have to write. I learned this after 5 manuscripts.
2. Listen to advice. Really listen. If you don’t like it, it’s probably right.
3. Stop comparing yourself to other writers. You don’t know what they’ve done to get where they are. No ones writing journey looks the same.
4. You don’t have to write every day but I think you have to be a writer every day. Think about your characters, your manuscript, listen to a song that reminds you of something in the story.
5. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to be written. You get it written by forgetting about perfectionism.
6. Listen to the journeys of other writers on podcasts or other formats – this will remind you everyone’s path is different but it will also give you inspiration and move you forward
7. Find balance in your life, don’t let writing take over.
8. Know the difference between burn out and just not wanting to write because you’re tired/ feeling lazy.
9. The writing comes first – all the other stuff is important: reading, building an author platform, doing courses and other writing adjacent activities. But if you’re working as well, and spending time with your kids, in the miniscule free time you have – prioritise the actual writing.
10. Do some mind-set work around your belief in yourself and your writing. I would have rolled my eyes at this a few years ago, but now, it’s one of my biggest tips for getting yourself through the highs and lows of writing life.
Emma Pignatiello, 1st Edition Retreat Fellow - March 2023