Many years ago I went to an Arvon centre and spent a week writing in the company of some fantastic people and fantastic tutors. It was such a good experience I repeated it a year later, and met even more fantastic people and fantastic tutors. Something magical happens at Arvon, a kind of infection that stays in your blood, so that you only have to recall lying drunk on a barn floor, or shrieking with laughter in a car on the way home to feel the tingle of the headrush that comes from devoting a week to your writing, from exposing your writing, from doing the writing.
At the first week one of the tutors was Anna Burns, who told us about her practice writing. She carried a notebook as all writers do, and if she saw something while she was out and about, or a thought or an image occurred to her, she would note it down next to the initials PW, as something she could work on later. When she took herself to her desk she then had a store of little seeds she could use for practice. And practice is just that – a limbering up, a stretching of the lexicon, a throwaway exercise. It is not critical but it is vital.
I have had a hiatus from my writing life. It’s been a busy time, but since life is not going to get any less busy, it’s time for me to shoehorn in some practice. Five minutes some days. An hour on others. It’s practice. Remember that. I’m just practising.