What I Learned at the Iceland Writers Retreat

What I Learned at the Iceland Writers Retreat

Each year we offer a different collection of small-group writing workshops at the Iceland Writers Retreat. Whether seasoned authors or just beginning to test the waters, our participants return home inspired and with concrete tips to help improve their writing. 

In July, a group of 2019 participants shared the key takeaways they got from some workshops. Here are a few of them: 

  • Ivan Coyote reminded me that I could be faster and write more if I didn’t overthink it. – G.G., US
  • Louis de Bernière said to enjoy what you’re writing, even if it’s unconventional. So I’ve spent these past few months reaching inside of me and asking myself what things really interest me, and how I can tell stories from a place of acquaintance and understanding. – Lola, Nigeria, Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award recipient
  • Lina Meruane reminded me to return to the visceral, which is hard to do when you get bogged down with the profession/business side of being an author. – VS Holmes, US
  • Priya Basil had us embrace the semi-random jump cut, not worrying about transitions but allowing the subconscious to draw connections between seemingly disparate things. We did an exercise where she read one random word each five minutes and we’d write a paragraph incorporating it into a story in some way. Can be very surprising what shakes out and quite freeing during drafting. –  Daniel, US, Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award recipient
  • Ann Hood – When writing about something hot, write about it cold. – Antoinette – Malta
  • Tessa Hadley reminded me the best way to learn writing is through reading great stories. Also, revision is the time for real creation. – Vivian – China
  • The biggest relief for me was during the closing panel when one of the questions asked to the instructors was if they wrote daily – and they were all like “Nope.” – It was assuring to me that it’s okay if I didn’t write every single day. –  Phoebe, US
  • Louis de Bernière said “Writing without the flowers makes it more powerful” – Stephanie, USA
  • Paul Yoon indicated that perfectionism can get in the way of ideas and creativity – Lisa, Canada
  • I found Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson’s class so freeing! I loved the fact that approaching things experimentally can be a true asset. It’s okay to do things differently. Maybe it will work; maybe it won’t. — Lisa, Canada

In November, we will be announcing the specific workshops on offer during the 2020 Iceland Writers Retreat.  Remember that workshop spaces are limited and fill on a first come, first served basis. Click here to register for the Iceland Writers Retreat April 29 – May 3, 2020.

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