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Tiffany Ko: Reset and Recharge at KSP

I may be writing this back to front – but I’m eager to say thank you to KSP for the rejuvenating two weeks I had staying in one of their cabins.

I came into the residency after I was deeply shaken by something that had happened in my personal life, and it was here that I had the space and time to re-evaluate and take my writing in a different direction.

Although I had planned to primarily work on stories exploring specific themes, I saw that again and again the theme of mental health was surfacing and waiting to be told. I spent equal amounts of time reading and feeling the feelings in the famous armchair, cocooned in a blanket, listening to the windows rattle on particularly windy nights.

I began to notice a daily pattern forming – wake up, spend some time moving, whether that be walks through John Forrest National Park or in the comfort of my cabin with a yoga video open on my laptop, then I would sit at the desk and start writing. At times, I’d be distracted by the birds or the trees swaying in the breeze. Once I even spotted a cat trying to pounce the twenty-eights for a quick meal (it was unsuccessful). Then I went back to writing, or journaling when my heart called for it, then a tea break on the armchair with a new book in hand (I had made sure to pack a stack in the suitcase of course).

The hardest thing to do was to unplug from the ‘real world’, but once I did, the words flowed. Writing with the backdrop of nature making its noises is a very special feeling. The bees doing their merry dance in front of their chosen tree trunk, the cacophony of birds from dawn till dusk, and my personal favourite, the rustling of quendas in the bushes. If you sit still enough near a bush, they will dart out from their cover and make their way from one bush to another.

I am coming away from this experience with so much gratitude – to the wonderful team at KSP who, without their dedication and hard work, none of these retreats could happen, to my fellow writers-in-residence who shared their wise insights on writing and life with a side of chocolate, wine, and lots of laughs, and to the cabin that was my home away from home for two weeks, that reminded me, once again, why I write.

Tiffany’s Top Ten Tips:

1. Find a dedicated space to write – whether that is in a corner of your house tucked away from distraction, a library or a nearby café (mine would be one that makes killer matcha lattes).

2. Build a routine. This can look like anything, as long as you’re creating time to write, such as thirty minutes every day, or an hour a week.

3. Do what works for you. For example, I have let go of the idea that I could be a ‘planner’ when I am a ‘pantser’ through and through.

4. Write what you are called to write. Remember that there’s a community out there, waiting to read it.

5. Read widely, and read what you want to write. All writers are readers first.

6. Speak to, and get to know your fellow writers – join a writing group and find your community.

7. Attend workshops on writing, they help immensely at every stage of your writing journey.

8. Be open to constructive criticism. A lot of the time we hold our ‘darlings’ close, but it’s good to let go of them, just a little bit.

9. Try some new techniques or fun writing exercises. For example, I found the Pomodoro Technique really helpful when inspiration hadn’t struck but I still had writing to do.

10. And the most important one – get those words down and write!

Tiffany Ko on her Residency at KSP, December 2022


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