Another small group this week and that means we got to do more writing! The summer season is here and it seems people are still working out their schedules. A small group often means more intimate writing, though!
After chatting for a bit, we started to write with a four-minute diary. If you haven’t tried the exercise, you can read about it in last week’s post.
After that we tried a word association exercise. Setting the timer for five minutes, I gave the group a word and they each wrote down a string of words freely associated, creating a chain of connections across the page. You can record your words in lists down the page or across the lines as if you were writing prose. Hearing each other’s lists can sometimes give you a little bit of a clue about how each person’s brain is uniquely their own. The word we started with was “radar.”
I stole Garrison Keillor’s poem from his Writer’s Almanac for the day and we read it together as a group. Marge Piercy’s “The scent of apple cake” is quite a lovely poem, and deceptively simple, as we discussed as a group. Full of contrast, surprises, and delight.
The next exercise is adapted from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and since we are working on banishing our inner editor/censor until we need her in revision, it should be useful. Start by writing out the prompt sentence ten times on your page. The repetition should inspire voices in your head. Begin to listen to these voices and what they are saying. As you finish rewriting the sentence the tenth time, spend about five minutes writing these voices and their response to that claim. These voices are “blurts” and are part of your inner editor. If the sentence is something you generally agree with–good for you, first off–try to ratchet up its intensity to an aspirational claim, something you might consider not-quite-true. Here’s the prompt sentence that should get most of our inner editors started and that you should write ten times: “I am a talented and prolific writer.”
Once you’ve finished writing the voices that emerge in response, come back here and we will use them to craft some targeted affirmations to help create a sense of safety. Re-read the blurt voices that you captured and underline the three most pointed, the three that most make you feel hopeless and helpless. Then, turn them into positive statements about yourself without worrying about their truth value. Something like “No one loves you” becomes “I am loved and supported.” Over the next week (or more), write these affirmations down or repeat them in your head every day. Repeat them when you sit down to write, and make sure you spend at least five minutes a day writing (for at least this whole week).
Our final prompt for the night is structured with two short free-write periods and an assignment for using that material. Each free-write should be four minutes. For the first, think back to a time when you experienced something in a beautiful/stark/remarkable landscape and describe that memory on the page. After four minutes, set the timer again, and think of a scene from a story, movie, novel or other narrative in which the place is an important element. Write about it for those four minutes. The assignment: write a piece exploring the connections in your mind between story, place, and memories. What makes these things important to you and important to humans in general? We will look at those first thing next week.