Category Archives: creative writing

Take it bird by bird…

‘All good writing is rewriting’ is an old chestnut that you’ll read a lot, when you read about writing. Because it’s utterly right. Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) talks of the ‘shitty first draft’. James Thurber said: ‘That draft isn’t any good; it isn’t supposed to be; the whole purpose is to sketch out proportions… I rarely have a very clear idea of where I’m going when I start. Just people and a situation. Then I fool around — writing and rewriting until the stuff gels.”

What sets us  apart from a lot of other writing workshops at Editing in Paradise is that we love editing. We are mad about it. We’re silly syntax spies (in both senses of ‘silly’). We love editing ourselves, each other … the TV, radio, press. Sure, we slash florid, flowery, elaborate, gaudy, gilded and excessive tautologies that say things the same way twice. [Clearly failed to self-edit, here!]

But it’s all because we love words and language. (We have puns at the ready.) And, more than that, what matters to us is the joy of collaborating with writers to find just the right word or phrase or scene of line of dialogue for any piece they’re writing.

Learning to work with feedback and accept or argue the toss is part of your solemn duty as a passionate writer. Often in that process, what emerges is the magic of the newly imagined … the next glimmer of wisdom that might be a change of tense or a change of point of view; or a new place to begin, or end.

Feedback, constructive critiquing (of self and others) and the techniques of self editing will be part of the writing toolkit you get at Editing in Paradise. And, it will set you apart from most writers.

One of our favourite quotes about the true approach that carves out a writer is from Thomas Mann, who said: “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” — Thomas Mann

When you learn to do your own editing with ease and confidence … you’ll write with far more ease and confidence. They are opposite sides of the same coin … and for many of our participants, that coin is a published manuscript.

Then, when you have your manuscript in the best shape it can be, having bent it, urged it, snapped it but not broken it… then an external editor’s counsel can be of real help.

With our support, too, there is information about what next steps to take to publishing your work.


Story keys here… read all about it

Bruce Springsteen said: “The artist’s job is to make other people care about your obsessions and to see them and experience them as their own. Finding your passion is one of the keys to writing your story.”

Some writers ist’s job is to make other peo nature. You might like solitude or (even) timing yourself to do your regular writing practice at a desk’.

You might use pencil and paper on the pages of your moleskin notebook, or an electronic notebook or computer. You may be soothed by Beethoven or the beating rhythms of Death Metal at piercing decibels.

At Editing in Paradise writing workshops and editing workshops, we’ll get you to shake it up a little. Try different ways of writing. We’ll encourage you to hang upside down if that writing. workshops, we’ll get you to sem and experience them as their own. Finding your pa… and then some!

Having a small group of supportive and enthusiastic fellow writers makes a difference. This is what writing and editing in this environment can offer: the sheer delight of knowing you can safely test your ideas on your supportive peers.

Not to be too disparaging about your peers, but… “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector. — Ernest Hemingway.

Hope and energy…that’s the spirit

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will,” said George Bernard Shaw.

During your time at an Editing in Paradise workshop or retreat, you will have daily opportunities to release and use that imagination and make it work to create something memorable and captivating.

You will be guided into a meditative state each morning, and given the tools to do a freewrite — a well-regarded and highly successful tool for tapping into your imagination — your stream of thoughts and feelings. It’s an effective writing tool for writing whatever comes to you, without hesitation; in an incessant stream. And while this may seem to be a recipe for producing… well, nonsense, once you have the hang of it, it can be a powerful fountain of ideas. In the meditation exercises, free writing becomes an ally and friend and creating has never been easier.

No matter how you nourish your particular creative process —mindmapping, journaling, seeing what comes or plotting each scene, or more — we will do our best to accommodate you, as well as share and introduce you to new techniques. You may  discover even better ways, so feel free to share. You gotta stay creative about being creative.

“… In my experience, the angel does, almost always, come. If I keep faith. On some days, keeping faith means simply staying there, when more than anything else  I want to get out of that room. It sometimes means going up without hope and without energy and turning on my computer.

And, at the end of two or three hours, and without hope and without energy, I find that I have indeed written some sentences that wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t gone up to write them. And — what is even more surprising — these sentences written without hope or energy often turn out to be just as good as the ones I wrote with hope and energy.”

Gail Godwin, ‘Rituals and Readiness’ in National Book Awards: The Writing Life

What is flow?


We believe that a holistic approach to writing is paramount. This will vary from writer to writer but for the Editing in Paradise programs, it simply means getting the measure of what works for you. You’ll need to balance a few things: hard work and musing; finessing each word and letting the writing flow as it may.

Then, each day, ask how  you create your individual flow. We don’t prefer or judge any one way. If it means burning the midnight oil with a few drams of Scotch whisky, or taking long walks with your notebook or recorder, or writing before the sunrise and before your first yoga class — we support you. Our belief is that whatever helps you write (within reason) can’t be all bad.

We’ve found that practicing mindfulness and a quiet exploration of your inner emotional landscape is a tremendous boost to the writing practice and increases your flow and writing productivity. Each day there are activities promoting that level of attention.

During the workshops we’ll examine what allows, even promotes, your writing flow. And, importantly, we’ll help you shed light on what impedes this rhythm. Your unique flow is the set up before you can actually begin to download ideas.

Next Workshops — one or two days non-residential

Next Retreats — two or more days residential and or overseas