Rehearsing Writing

Over the past few months I have been working hard on a novel that has been trying to free itself from me in a host of ways over many years. I finally feel like I have the right vehicle to tell the story and I’ve worked every day to progress it. Whether it’s been ten minutes between bouts of remote learning, or online teaching, or glorious three hour stretches when I only have myself to worry about. I have shown up and written, something, every single day this year.

Just the fact that it is now a habit for me to write everyday is something I celebrate.

Me. 2020

One thing I’ve always known as a teacher but have rarely put into practice as a writer is verbally rehearsing my words. I’ve read things out loud to myself to see how they sound but what has been truly illuminating this year has been reading to someone else.

Every Saturday evening I pour myself a large glass of red wine, patter downstairs to the front room where the modem is located (because the NBN is the actual worst and wifi barely works in certain parts of our house) and set myself up for a FaceTime call with my friend and fellow writer, Kate. Each week we read a part of our work to one another and it is remarkable how insightful this simple process is. Knowing someone you trust is listening, somehow highlights the areas that you stumble over in a way that reading to yourself doesn’t seem to do.

Yes we give each other feedback; what we loved, what perhaps didn’t hit the mark as well, but it’s more of a discussion. And what it often does is make clear where our writing hasn’t detailed our thoughts enough. You don’t get this discussion when you read to yourself because, as the author, you have ALL of the background knowledge on your characters, their needs and desires, tucked inside your mind. Our audience does not. So when Kate says to me, ‘would he really say that?’ and I respond, ‘yeah he would because A, B and C’, it’s apparent then, that I’ve not written those reasons clearly enough into my character.

In classrooms we readily offer opportunities for our students to read their work to a partner and hear important questions from an audience member, but we’re less inclined to do this for ourselves. Perhaps it stems from the fear that is so common among creative people, that putting our work out there for discussion will result in us being rejected, laughed at or ridiculed. But if you have someone you trust, perhaps someone who is on a similar writing journey to yourself, as Kate and I are, then cultivating a trusting, productive and beneficial environment is easy. And so worthwhile. In this strange, strange year that I chose to focus on my growth as a writer, I have found reading my work to Kate, possibly the most worthwhile venture of all.

It’s been a short and sweet post today my writing friends but a handy tip I wanted to share with you all. Until next time, enjoy your tea and your writing xx

Image Courtesy of Sam Manns via

The simple things

It is safe to say that I’ve been doing a lot of noticing and a lot of tea drinking lately, which, as luck would have it, are the reasons I created this blog in the first place.

I wanted a space where I could write, just for me, to improve my daily writing habit and discipline. It’s been working so well that my major project has taken over and my blog has been somewhat neglected.

I wanted to share with you a little something I wrote from the simple act of noticing my surroundings. Recently I’ve been spending most of my writing time tucked away in a little room that looks more like a study each day. All of my picture story books that used to fill my classroom library now surround me. The light streams in the window and bounces off the countless objects on my desk.

It was noticing the sunlight on these objects that prompted me to conduct an audit of ‘things’ on my desk in my writer’s notebook. There were A LOT. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said:

If a messy desk is the sign of a messy mind

I hate to think what an empty desk is the sign of.’

A. Einstein

I refer to this quote endlessly. Particularly to myself when I start to procrasti-clean as my friend Catherine Deveny would say.

So I completed the audit of my desk and then I composed this rough little poem.

My desk

My isolation island

Sanctuary from the noise

Candles: Six. Two lit;

Imagine the Nature in passionfruit

and Rose Quartz Crystal Candle.

I can’t smell them

Until I extinguish them.

I find this odd.

Framed photos

both alike in dignity,

smiles from behind sleeping cats

and serious eyes from a sun drenched lawn.

One polaroid: the class of 2018

missing the joy of year 6 now.

A canvas – beach boys. Curious and studious,

then joyfully escaping the sea’s clutches.

Books and books and books

Piled high for research

for learning

for pleasure.

How Finding Your Passion Can Changes Everything

Does it?

I think it might

I get to write everyday

And that has indeed changed everything

My desk

My isolation island

Has opened up the world.

K Portier 2020

I wonder what small, incidental things you have been noticing? Please feel free to share them here. I hope you are all keeping safe and well. A cup of tea is an excellent tonic for most things. xx

On isolation…

What a world we’re living in. I don’t need to describe it. You are all seeing it, feeling it and living it. Each of us experiencing things in a different way to the next person.

At times, I’ve caught myself starting to slide into bleak places. Depressing places. Exhausting places. And hauled myself out using a range of strategies – like getting fresh air, exercising, messaging a friend, and writing. I will continue to do these things, not just whenever I feel that familiar, dark cocoon beginning to envelope me, but as often as I can, to prevent it’s arrival in the first place.

My friend Catherine Deveny, a wonderful writer, is uploading a writing tutorial every day on FB so we can have some guidance in our creative outlet. If you don’t know her she’s a fabulous woman who is as generous as she is knowledgable. Here’s the link. I did lesson one today and it was a lovely way to get started. It’s free but if you can spare a dollar please do…

This was a little poem I wrote during Dev’s online class:

The world feels heavy

The weight of it all

pulls on my face

drags my eyelids down

like anchors

My cheeks hurt

My jaw aches

from the grinding,

asleep and awake,

it has breached my flesh

and left a gaping wound

where I breathe in fear and sadness

Breathe out exhaustion and exclusion

Is this my contribution to our heavy world?

Where has hope gone?

It’s crawled, desperate and dying,

covered in guilt

through the hole, and out

Into the snaking, receding sunlight.

My house is closed tight

Shut, like my eyes

Pulled down by the weight of the world

Heavy on our faces.

K Portier 24/03/20

What a miserable poem that is! But it’s what fell out of me and so it is. Perhaps my writing tomorrow will be more upbeat and uplifting, which is honestly how I prefer it.

My plan is just to keep writing and keep collecting all the thoughts and feelings and then, when I’m strong enough, sift through the debris for some treasure.

Recently I’ve run a couple of Professional Development sessions for teachers and I’ve posed the following two writing prompts that I think are applicable and worthwhile to do whether you’re a teacher or not. Plus it’s something to stimulate the senses while you’re in isolation.

  1. Spend 5-10 minutes writing about your relationship with writing. Has it changed over the years? Do you have a relationship with writing? Is it all emails and work docs?
  2. Spend 5-10 minutes writing about how your relationship with writing may’ve impacted your students (or if you’re not a teacher) how has it impacted your own self?

There are no right or wrong, good or bad answers to these questions. The prompts are merely an opportunity for you to reflect on something you may not have turned your mind to before.

I’ve been amazed by many of the responses teachers have shared to these two prompts. I’ve heard several times that the joy of creating writing was snuffed out as they moved through the education system, into university and then into the work force. And now, mostly anything of substance they write is for academic purposes, while the notion of creative writing no longer exists in their lives.

I’ve also heard people explain that they didn’t really enjoy writing at school and so it was never probable they would develop a relationship with writing beyond school. Others admitted that they were so disappointed seeing all the red marks on their work that they lost confidence and eventually gave up. How sad and unnecessary.

Please feel free to have a go responding to those 2 little prompts and if you fancy sharing your thoughts I’d love to hear from you. Take care in these tricky times my friends. I hope you have enough tea on hand to see you through xx