Monday, 17 February 2014

Treat yourself to a writing spa

On the eve of my return to teaching for this year, I was reflecting on all the different ingredients that contribute to a student’s learning. I don't just mean in the neurological sense, there are other eloquent experts already contributing to that discussion. I was thinking of in-class, online, intensives or residential, formal or informal places to learn. 

Classrooms allow students to interact with each other and bounce of the collective input. They have their down sides too. There’s many a teacher who has tried to coax the too shy students in the corner, or battled to stop the unruly student who seems determined to disrupt everyone else. Online can be a wonderful place for those who want to manage their own workload, given other commitments. It can also be a lonely place for some and it just doesn’t work for others.

In a sense there are many classrooms around us. Life in general being the largest. While we are gathering all our data and assimilating it, we sometimes need an opportunity to really focus on what we are trying to improve. Enter the residential workshop. For writers, these are opportunities to mix with like-minded people in an intensive situation where the main focus is on writing. The world outside is left behind for a while and the only thing participants have to think about is their craft and how to develop it. There are opportunities to bond with other writers, develop networks and come away inspired with new ideas and directions. Just like a spa day works on the body, the residential writing workshop works on the writer’s mind.  

My writer friend Sherryl Clark runs a number of these events. The next one coming up in May is a Writers’ Residential Weekend. Might be worth escaping for two days and soaking yourself in words.

In the meantime, as the new higher education year starts, happy learning to those enrolled. To those still taking lessons in Life’s School, I'm a student along with you. 

Soak it all up and remember to give yourself a spa day every now and again.