Writers on Writing is our regular conversation with a writer or industry professional about the writing craft, industry insights, and their own practice. This week, we spoke to author and journalist Kavita Bedford about developing a focused and mindful practice, ahead of her workshop Finding a Creative Practice on 21 October at Writing NSW.
Are you a morning writer or an evening writer?
My practice is always shifting with life circumstances, but I prefer the mornings.
What’s the biggest obstacle to writers trying to establish a creative practice?
Perfection or becoming too attached to one way of being can be an obstacle to our practice. When I first started writing, I wrote whenever and wherever. I didn’t have a focused practice, but I also was always working multiple jobs, and living a generally frenzied lifestyle, and so I just did it when I could. Then, when I allowed myself to commit to writing more deeply, I discovered I was a morning writer, and it was exciting. I developed a strong, consistent practice; it was like a drug. But I also noticed, I would become upset if anything got in its way. I became rigid. I’ve recently had a baby, and with much resistance, I am now realising my writing practice will have to change again! All of that to say, I think it can be dangerous to attach to any kind of one identity. It’s a tricky balance as we are being asked to be consistent, turn up every day, establish routine – and equally to be able to break it and reinvent when needed. But that is the role of the artist or writer, to be able to both commit and be fluid.
In your opinion, is writer’s block real?
I don’t know if I connect to this term. What is true, is that creativity is its own life force, with its own ebbs and flows, and needs to be treated with that respect. We cannot expect the mind to just churn things out continuously. We need to develop a more reciprocal relationship with this force. It is like the breath; sometimes it is about inhaling ideas and absorbing and letting things lie fallow, and other times, it is about exhalation and output. Often when we are ‘blocked’, I think it is important to look at what phase in the process we are inhabiting and approach it differently.
Do you see a connection between mind and body when it comes to creativity?
The notion that we write simply from our minds is a myth. Our bodies hold our emotions and secrets and tensions and blocks. We need to engage the body, just as much as the mind, if we want to write with authenticity. I like working with the body to ‘unblock’ or to achieve a ‘flow’ state.
What have you read recently that you loved?
Barefoot Doctor by Can Xue and Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au
Kavita Bedford is an Australian-Indian writer with a background in journalism, anthropology and literature. Her novel, Friends & Dark Shapes, was published in 2021 in Australia, USA, and Italy and was Shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, 2021, The NSW Premiers’ New Fiction, and Small Press Network’s Book of the Year. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including Guernica, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, ABC Arts, Roads & Kingdoms, and Island Magazine. She was a recent Churchill Fellow exploring migrant narratives between Australia and Europe.
Join Finding a Creative Practice with Kavita Bedford, Saturday 21 October 2023, 10am-4pm.
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