Indian Spring

Award-winning Indian author Ardashir Vakil is coming to Austria in May to host an exclusive networking/reading, following by a creative writing event. The title of the workshop: Writing for Life. A special offer price on the workshop ends on Friday.

As writers – especially in that first big work – we often choose to use our own life experiences and memories, drawing on deeply personal themes and details to enrich plot, create three-dimensional characters and build a body of material to work from. But how should we do this effectively, and make the most of those experiences to create really strong writing?

Now, in a creative writing weekend organised by writers’ group Write Now, the author Ardashir Vakil, who also lectures in creative writing in London, will be giving a free reading of a recent short story of his, following by a two-day workshop. Here’s what that weekend will look like…

On the evening of Friday 5 May, Vakil will read ‘Impromptu’, a piece he wrote in 2014 and which was published in the spring of that year in Raritan, a prestigious American literary journal. The piece has a very Viennese theme, and the reading will take place at the Arts Centre below the Cafe Korb in the Innenstadt, beginning at 9 p.m. The author will read for 35 minutes, after which participants will be invited to question Vakil, before enjoying a drink and networking event with the other writers, publishers, journalists and artists present. The reading and social opportunity will be free of charge.

Subsequently, on the mornings and early afternoons of Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 May, Vakil will host a workshop for twelve people, examining how to take one’s own life story, experience and memories, and work it into your writing to enrich plot and characters in novels and short stories. Vakil’s own best-selling novel, ‘Beach Boy’, is a coming-of-age story dealing with his own childhood in ‘60s and ‘70s Bombay, which won the Betty Trask Award.

The workshop will consist of writing exercises when all participants, including Vakil, will write for anything from 5 to 20 minutes. All participants will get a chance to read to the group and receive feedback from Vakil and their peers. Questions on issues such as plot, character, narrative technique and voice will be discussed throughout the workshop, and Vakil will make room to address any outstanding questions participants may wish to discuss during intervals in each session and lunch afterwards.

The workshop is being kept small, with twelve participants, to maximise direct interaction and close-in access to the host. Tickets for the workshop cost € 175 if booked by he end of this week, 31 March, and € 195 if booked after that date. The workshop will be held in the Arts Centre below the Cafe Korb, five minutes’ walk from Stephansdom.

If you think you might be interested in attending the workshop and networking event for free, or would like to book a place on the workshop, please contact Tim Martinz-Lywood by calling 0650 289 1150 or drop in at the Write Now website.

Write Now is a group dedicated to creating a platform for English-language writes in Vienna to network, exchange writing experiences and socialise with life minds. 

Creative Time Management

How to manage your time creatively

(by Paul Malone)

Like most writers you’ve probably come to appreciate the value of time, or to lament the apparent lack of it. Rare are those who “write for a living”. For most, writing takes its place, and vies for its respective time, amidst a myriad of activities of hierarchal importance. Still, if you wish to tap your writing potential (and still lead an orderly and happy life!), this post may have something for you:

How to achieve your writing best:

  1. Be patient whilst creating a body of work
  2. Develop an overarching plan for your writing career
  3. Manage your time creatively.

There isn’t room in the one post to address all these points in-depth, nor am I asserting the necessary experience to provide “expert” advice on these, but by way of brief explanation to provide context for why you should manage your time creatively:

  1. Creating a body of work takes a lifetime. The wise writer enjoys the journey, has the courage to explore (genre, form, etc.), isn’t in a hurry to “label” their writing or the kind of writer they are. Such a writer takes pleasure in honing their craft, not only through writing practice, but though pushing boundaries, being open to new ideas. Above all, be patient and enjoy the journey!
  1. Develop an overarching plan for your writing career. Whilst steadily creating a body of work, take the time to consider your work objectively, plan your writing activities to achieve smaller goals (a short story, for example) that lead to larger outcomes (an anthology, for example). Along the way educate yourself: read, attend writing courses, network, etc. Allow your plan to unfold, to alter course naturally.
  1. Manage your time creatively: the focus of this post and the title of a workshop I will be running this fall in Vienna (check out “workshops” on this site). Here’s one extremely effective way of managing your time creatively. I call it Time Snippets:

Time Snippets

As the title suggests, Time Snippets is about working for short yet concentrated periods to steadily achieve ones writing goals. How long is a snippet? 15 minutes to one hour. Much longer and the focus is lost; shorter is impractical. Why write in time snippets? Because collectively they yield results. Because all too often writers procrastinate, waiting for the illusive “chunks” of time–a free afternoon, a free evening etc. Because when a writer has achieved their weekly writing target (see below), they can set all thoughts of writing aside, fully enjoying other activities.

Here’s how Time Snippets Works:

  1. Decide how much time you’d like to write each week
  2. Work out when you can write each day (in snippets from 15 minutes to 1 hour)
  3. Write in snippets, keeping track of your progress.

That is it. Simple, right? There is one other thing:

I suggest you challenge any preconceptions you might have about what constitutes a conducive environment to write. What preconceptions? Here are a few:

  • I need a quiet environment to write
  • I need a desk
  • I need to mentally prepare
  • I need a coffee, music, and the like
  • I can’t just write anywhere

All reasonable, of course. But all of these are a hindrance to the writer who does not have the luxury of time. If you commute by public transport, write in a notebook (I use a clipboard), or bring a laptop. Write for 30 minutes before you go to bed, when you get up, when you get a few free minutes. But track your progress. In doing so you’re being honest about your writing time and eliminating that niggling feeling you haven’t written enough.

Time snippets is just one way of managing your time creatively. There are others, of course. If you’d like to know more about time snippets, about making the most of your writing time, then register for the Creative Time Management workshop this fall.

Happy Writing!