“Creative Writing UK BK Eco Retreat 29 – 31 March 2019 at Worthing. Our final session of the day was with Robert and showed us how we can use creative writing to discover our own inner ‘genius’ and connect with the Earth.”
I stood, and sometimes sat crosslegged, in front of a dozen or so people and did the same thing I always do at short workshops. I told them that there are two ways to write: planning and pantsing and that I’m a panstser so that’s what we’re going to do today. A planner plans out what they’re going to do before they write and a pantser just makes it up as they go along.
The raison d’etre for this is that if a writer can switch off their critical facilities for long enough, they can just write down the words that their unconscious processes suggest, in much the same way as word-association games works.
To demonstrate this, I took the group through a warm-up exercise that involved me supplying a seed-word and then, going around the room, the next person just saying the first word that came into their head. I suggested to them that if there was any hesitation in this it meant that they were using the conscious processes (the ones that planners use) and that these were what we were trying to circumvent. After a few rounds, they started to get the hang of it and got quicker. It was time to move to phase two.
The next exercise involved each member of the group drawing a mind-map using a seed-word of their choice. They got five minutes to do this, which involved writing one word in the middle of a piece of paper, four words that they associated with this word around it, then a further three associated words for each of the four. In all, we ended up with seventeen words each.
Their challenge then was to, individually, use all of their words in a story, that could be as long or short as they liked, but they only got ten minutes to complete it. This meant that they had to do it, as much as possible, without thinking. The instructions were to just write a word and they write whatever next word that popped into their head. Everyone, without exception, completed a story within the ten minutes.
I asked them then to think a little and then extract an affirmation from their story that they could take away and use. We then went around the room and people shared their stories.
With only one exception, everyone shared. It was surprising the variety of styles that people drew on: functional, short, long, flowery, metaphorical, terse, lyrical etc. But, whatever the style, they were all totally on target for the theme of the weekend: eco-friendship.
It was a fun way to spend an hour. I got to get people to enjoy themselves and write stories about making the world a better place. What’s not to like!