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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Writing Exercises

Finding the right line

Genre: Poetry

Write for three minutes without stopping, without thinking – beginning with the words ‘The moment I realised…’. Don’t worry about the form you are writing in, or if some of it is nonsense, but keep going for the full three minutes. Let the no...

John-Greening-(2) John Greening

Writing Tips

Switching to a different line

Genre: Poetry

Unless you are W.B.Yeats, you are unlikely to draft your poems in prose, but it’s quite possible that you have fallen into the habit of drafting them in a certain way. Perhaps you tend to go for short lines or long lines, or automatically avoid lines that en...

John-Greening-(2) John Greening

Writing Exercises

Filling in the gaps

Genre: Fiction

Take three seemingly unrelated events. It’s best to use ones which have emotional reverberations like, say, a young girl lighting a candle in a church, a phone ringing in an empty room and an old man writing a letter. It can be someone crying whilst wash...

Tobias-Jones---course-13-Thriller Tobias Jones

Writing Tips

Mind the gaps

Genre: All

In all forms of writing it’s important never to give the reader four, but to give them two plus two. One should allow gaps for the reader to participate in the creative process, because the reader is so much more sophisticated than we give them credit fo...

Tobias-Jones---course-13-Thriller Tobias Jones

Writing Exercises

Free writing

Genre: All

Perennially useful.  Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Start the timer and start writing, as fast as you can. Write without stopping, without judgement, without crossing out, without correcting your grammar or spelling, without really caring if you are writing...

Ros-Barber Ros Barber

Writing Tips

The process of writing is really two processes

Genre: All

The creative process is actually two separate processes: creation and criticism (editing). The biggest mistake an aspiring writer can make is trying to create and critique at the same time. Example: a sentence comes into your head, and instead of writing it do...

Ros-Barber Ros Barber

Writing Exercises

Poetry: taking a different view

Genre: Poetry

Read a poem by another writer. Then set yourself the challenge of writing that poem anew from a different perspective, in a completely different voice. I’ve used this challenge with Sylvia Plath’s famous poem ‘Mirror’. Plath’s piece is written from t...

Helen-Mort Helen Mort

Writing Tips

Write about things that deeply connect with you

Genre: Poetry

In ‘Poetry in the Making’ Ted Hughes said: you write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest you…in writing, you have to be able to distinguish between those things about which you are merely curious things you heard about last week o...

Helen-Mort Helen Mort

Writing Tips

Balancing control with chaos

Genre: Poetry

When we’re learning to write, we expend a lot of effort on control: how to make poems more unified, more consistent; how to home in on the ‘real’ subject or central emotional concern. This is all useful and valuable. Poems do not work if they...

Frances Leviston-101-BW-Crop Frances Leviston

Writing Exercises

Plaiting disparate elements together

Genre: Poetry

Often poems have one dominant subject, and other subjects enter and leave the poem only as corollaries to that central concern. This exercise is about a different kind of poem – one that keeps three or more subjects in play, each of them equally weighted, an...

Frances Leviston-101-BW-Crop Frances Leviston

Writing Tips

Character – building, the art of psychometry

Genre: Fiction

One way of creating character, and/or teasing out some psychological depth, is to find for them a resonant object – an object associated in some way with your character, or an object that your character covets or loves. It might be a piece of furniture &...

Jane-Feaver Jane Feaver

Writing Exercises

Burning chair

Genre: Fiction

Imagine that there is an armchair smouldering outside on the street. Begin by describing the chair in precise, physical, concrete detail. How big is it? What is it made of? With what sort of material is it covered in? (Think pattern, texture, wear). What are i...

Jane-Feaver Jane Feaver


Testimonial Read More

As a Friend of Arvon and with all my friends from Arvon – I am confident that I will never lose that confidence and motivation to use my voice and achieve that first novel. — Chris Metcalfe, Friend

I became a Friend as I wanted to support the great work Arvon does, having got so much out of my course last year, and also to have the chance to book onto courses earlier. — Mark, Friend

The “Friends” scheme is perfectly-named – it’s how I feel towards Arvon. They’re a friend I’ve turned to at tricky, self-doubting points in my writing life and I know they are there if I need them again for time, space and inspiration. — Julie Mayhew, Friend