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Narelle Hill: Thank you KSP

I entered my writing residency feeling burnout from the grind of city life.

In fact there was a very strong risk that I would spend two weeks simply kicking back in the arm chair, streaming bad tv on my laptop and eating chocolate.

Structure was going to be important to ensure I got anything done so I collected my tried and true writing tools and settled in.

My days started at 7am with an online meeting with a writing pal interstate. We did a brief check-in before setting writing goals for the day and then spinning off to our respective projects.

For the next few hours, I used a variation of the pomodoro technique, where I would do 20-30 minutes of writing and then take a short break to do some yoga, make a coffee, or check in with another writing friend. Then back for another 20-30 minute sprint: either writing new scenes, or brainstorming on the whiteboard. Another quick break, another sprint and so on.

At 12pm, I’d have a second call with the interstate writing buddy to report back on progress. By this time, I had often achieved my goals for the day. It left me free to continue writing if I felt like it, read a book, or stream bad tv and eat chocolate (almost) guilt-free.

By the end of the two weeks, I had an extra 15,000 new words for my draft manuscript and a plot outline that had gone through a couple of iterations. I had a strong foundation and direction to take me forward.

But what KSP really gave me, was two weeks of separation from the city and connection with myself. There was no work politics, commute, housework, life administration, or demands from other people. It gave me the time and space to allow the creative process to unfold and to get some deep rest.

Nothing to do but write, read, nap and repeat.

It was productive and restorative and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Thank you KSP.

Top 10 Tips for a productive stay at KSP:

1. Arrange writing dates with your writing friends to make sure you get to the desk. Set goals, support each other, be accountable.

2. Use the pomodoro technique to maintain energy levels.

3. The first draft will not be the last draft. Write the shitty first draft.

4. Follow the spark and the thread of writing that feels alive, energised, and fun.

5. Suspend judgement. Write whatever wants to come out, no matter how dark, or weird.

6. Lean into fear and write things that feel a bit scary to put on the page. You can always decide not to share it later.

7. If you’re not sure what happens next, brainstorm a list of all the different things that could happen (from the mundane to the ridiculous) and then pick the one that feels right.

8. Experiment. Try out new ideas even if you’re not sure it will work.

9. At the end of each writing day, write an encouraging note to yourself summarising where you got to and where you might pick up the next day.

10. Take good care of your physical self. Good food, water, exercise, sleep. Narelle Hill - KSP Fellow 2022


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