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Read yourself as a stranger

Remember your reading voice, how you sound when you read your own work aloud (assuming that you read aloud as a test of your tone, meter and rhythm)? Well, that is your comfort zone, the place where you create and revise with a degree of tension, agony and exhilaration. You know when you are there. You can feel it, a certain quickening of the pulse and shallowness of breaths that keeps you at your desk. And it is a place where you forget time so that if you check a clock you are surprised by how fast the last hour passed by.

Now do the opposite of that comfortable rigour (not rigor mortis). Read yourself as a stranger. You do not know any of the above. Negate it as a deliberate act. This means you put the poem or prose into a strange font (goodbye Times New Roman and the tyranny of comfort thereof), take your name off it (welcome nameless selves) and read it as if someone else wrote it. The act of reading numerous personas as a stranger opens a critical space in you which allows you to be ruthless with the piece of life before your eyes in ways that provenance of authorship prevents you from doing by making you protective of the work.

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Live your subject

Non-fiction writers live their books before they write them. From biography to travel to books about music, art…

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Write towards the discomfort

A very simple act of reversal: conventionally we might begin a writing exercise with a prompt given to…

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Let the place do the talking

It is tremendously difficult to write about a place you know as if you are a travel writer….

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Trusting the power of gravity

As a competitive fellrunner (and avid cyclist, mountaineer, swimmer etc. etc. you get the idea) I’m fascinated by…

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

What if we quit thinking of poetry as a literary form, and instead conceive of it as a…

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New environments for poetry

Many things can be said in literature using words, but they can also be said using other arts,…

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Placing poetry in natural spaces

Your exercise is to write and place your poem somewhere that will surprise and delight the reader, be…

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