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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

An Unwriting Exercise

Genre: Poetry

In his essay ‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’, Robert Crawford describes the page as a field, and verse the plough that turns it over, furrow by furrow; he talks about the intrusion of ‘firths’ of white space between couplets. Look over your ...

Jen Hadfield

Writing Tips

A poem is made of words and silent words

Genre: Poetry

When I was a child, what I believed to be the power of silent thought terrified me. I hadn’t learnt that although thoughts are real, they aren’t reality. I couldn’t tell the difference between ideas and actions, and thoughts felt lethal, inau...

Jen Hadfield

Writing Tips

Freedom in Fabrication

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Film & TV, Poetry, Radio, Science Fiction, Short Story, Speculative, Theatre & Writing for Children & YA

The Japanese writer Tanizaki complained that he could not read his contemporaries. Every time he picked up a novel and read the first page he thought, ‘But this is just about him!’ (It usually was a him). This is an interesting complaint, particula...

Andrew Miller

Writing Exercises

Radical Reinvention

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Film & TV, Poetry, Radio, Science Fiction, Short Story & Theatre

One way to think about writing is as a tool of curiosity. A way of finding out about the world rather than (or as well as) a way of saying what you have found out. You become a traveller, an adventurer, rather than a surveyor of the familiar, the already posse...

Andrew Miller

Writing Exercises

Write towards the discomfort

Genre: Poetry

A very simple act of reversal: conventionally we might begin a writing exercise with a prompt given to us and write from there- I want to do something slightly different. We write best when we’re uncomfortable (a notion I much prefer to that idea that you h...

Andrew McMillan

Writing Tips

Poetic truth

Genre: Poetry

Once, when I was reading a Selima Hill collection, I noticed that she’d used an epigraph by the poet Rita-Ann Higgins; it’s a piece of wisdom I’ve carried with me ever since: “To get to the poetic truth, it is not always necessary to tell that what-act...

Andrew McMillan

Writing Exercises

Veiling the Narrative

Genre: Poetry

Stories are one of the ways we have to make sense of the world.  I’m interested not just in telling stories with poetry, but also how we tell stories, what happens in the act of telling a story in a poem.  There are many different ways of doing this – us...

Kim Moore

Writing Exercises

Reconsider the mundane

Genre: Poetry

Think of a hobby or passion you have, outside of writing and literature. So perhaps baking, or dancing, or gardening, or a specific genre of film, or long-distance running, or knitting (to name just a few possible examples). Once you’ve thought of what that ...

Andrew McMillan

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