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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Find writing tips and exercises from our Arvon tutors here, to develop your craft and inspire your imagination. Each writing tip comes with a related writing exercise, and a new tip and exercise are added every fortnight.

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Writing Exercises

Experimenting with structure

Genre: Poetry

Try experimenting for a week or two, using a structure you’re not used to – perhaps a form, especially a given form, such as the sonnet or villanelle, the triolet or particularly a ballad (you can google these or simply turn to them in that indispe...

Ann and Peter Sansom

Writing Tips

Getting it written, getting it right

Genre: Poetry

We’re fond of quoting Hunter Davies, the great biographer of the Beatles and Alfred Wainwright (and Wayne Rooney), who says ‘Don’t get it right, get it written’. That is key, and anyone will tell you: just do it. But isn’t there a...

Ann and Peter Sansom

Writing Exercises

Trusting the power of gravity

Genre: Poetry

As a competitive fellrunner (and avid cyclist, mountaineer, swimmer etc. etc. you get the idea) I’m fascinated by the relationship between physical movement and poetry. My next poetry collection with Carcanet includes a lengthy sequence exploring the boundar...

Lucy Burnett

Writing Tips

Don’t write poems – write an artwork, a musical composition, a dance

Genre: Poetry

What if we quit thinking of poetry as a literary form, and instead conceive of it as a broader artistic practice? Or put another way, might we be doing poetry a disservice by grouping it with other literary forms such as the short story, the novel or the scrip...

Lucy Burnett

Writing Exercises

Expressing the inexpressible

Genre: Poetry

This exercise is very simple, but it’s an exercise that touches on both the material and language of poems. 1. Think for five minutes and make notes about an experience or a place or a time or a thought or a feeling or a notion that you feel would be difficu...

Jacob Polley

Writing Tips

Writing the unspoken

Genre: Poetry

quicken: to accelerate; to impart energy or liveliness to; to invigorate; to stimulate; to give life to; to revive; to move faster; become alive or lively; to revive; to be stimulated; (of a pregnant woman) to reach the stage in pregnancy when the movement of ...

Jacob Polley

Writing Exercises

An art collaboration

Genre: Poetry

You don’t have to know an artist to collaborate with them. They don’t even need to be alive. Take your notebook to an art gallery, preferably at a quiet time of day. Wander until a painting/sculpture/installation/photo etc catches your eye. You might like ...

Katrina Naomi

Writing Tips

Drafting and editing poetry

Genre: Poetry

Write poetry by hand. Go on, try it, even if you always write directly on the computer. I find I feel more connected, more able to take risks, more able to make mistakes. When you’ve written your first draft, don’t rush off to something else, sit there for...

Katrina Naomi

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