By Karen Watson & Sam Nesbit
“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
In response to feedback from the Library Staff Conference and comments from colleagues about quiet working spaces across campus, the Innovation Group approached Sussex researcher Dr Catherine Pope to facilitate a writing retreat for Library Staff. Our aim was to provide staff with a set of writing techniques that would help them structure their work, but more importantly, to provide a suitable space to knuckle-down and apply them. There were no rules about what to write: the idea was to be as open and inclusive as possible.
Part 1: the Workshop
Catherine scheduled a preparatory workshop in May, a half-day series of exercises at Jubilee, where we learned about (amongst other things): the Pomodoro technique, freewriting vs. generative writing, anti-procrastination techniques, and the sage wisdom of many professional writers (sample quote: “If you want to be a [professional] writer, you must do two things about all others; read a lot and write a lot. There is no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no short cut.” – Stephen King).
The attendees came from all sections and grades in the library, and the span seemed to emphasise the inescapable fact: writing is hard, no matter role you do.
Catherine emphasised the need to just write: it doesn’t matter what the first draft looks like, the process is the thing, get it out – all variants of the same command: stop faffing! It was refreshing to hear such direct, sensible advice – confronting the simple nature of the task made it easier to stop worrying about all the complexities, analogous to moving house: get everything in, then start to tidy the rooms.
The 5 hours flew by (most of it spent actually writing), and the group came out buzzing, and looking forward to applying what we’d learned. Continue reading