Spreadsheets and Moxie… an after retreat report with ten lessons

Spreadsheets and Moxie… an after retreat report with ten lessons

Note: Spreadsheets and Moxie is a year long R&D project, funded by Arts Council England, in which Viccy Adams and I work in tandem, with partner organisations and ten very talented Associate Artists, to take a rounded approach to professionalism in the Creative Arts, with a particular focus on leadership for women writers. Find out more here. 


SO what did we learn. Viccy has written a full account on her website, so here’s my report in the form of ten lessons….

  1.  To trust the power of my own sub-conscious to find answers through just writing.
  2.  To always keep checking in on what *needs* to be done – v – what *could* be done – what I think *should* be done.
  3.  The usefulness of standardised templates to get the information out and down. And then it can be shaped.
  4.  To always go the extra 10%. What more could I do for the project, for every project?
  5.  We are so lucky to have words as our material – this came from an exercise on Professionalism, what does it mean, what could it mean, where does it come from, what other words are hiding in it that can be pulled out for answers….
  6.  I’m not good with too much talking – so my preferred way of working is to apply theories to something concrete.
  7.  This was a 4am in the morning very personal revelation – I don’t just have to be a writer on the page. I write things in parks, on postcards, I can write things everywhere, in fact I have already…. of course I have but I hadn’t put two and two together before. SO EXCITING!
  8.  The power of stories always to get across information. We need lots of case studies here – how other women have worked in the arts, but also in business, in charities. Men too…    Fancy telling us your case study? Get in touch – spreadsheetsandmoxie@gmail.com.
  9.  We (well OK, I) need to make sure I take responsibility for the projects I’m involved in and put my name to them more strongly. A mixture of process and product here.
  10.  That the focus for both Viccy and I has always to be our writing. And just how easy it is to forget this in other people’s needs. Why is this? Maybe because we have something            concrete in front of us when we’re asked to do something, and that can be easier than the uncertainties all writers have to face when we sit down with our own pages.

A big thank you to Arvon, lovely Arvon, for providing the Clockhouse at the Hurst as a centre for us to work in. And to centre director, Natasha Carlish for an inspiring conversation about her experiences and what advice she has given film-makers – eg the three things you need: PASSION (the most powerful part), VISION (a strategic plan), PEOPLE (champions/mentors), and also a dose of humour and the ability to fail again and again….


And also to our ten Associate Artists: Clare Best, Vanessa Gebbie, Kris Johnson, Helen Limon, Lisa Matthews,Juliana Mensah, Ellen Montelius, Susannah Pickering-Ronnie, Catherine Smith and Kay Syrad. Thanks to them and the questions they gave us, we are now ready for the next stage of the project.


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