Reflections on a writing workshop
On Saturday 1st February I facilitated a writing workshop focussing on writing in the Hospice setting. I drew on my experience of running poetry groups in Hospices over the last six years to inform my exercises and discussionsHere is an overview of what I did and a bit of my reflections on the day.
Choosing words :- participants were offered the opportunity to chose words from either cards, magnetic words or small wooden blocks. The instruction was to chose some words and then write something from them, either using them all or using them to develop ideas etc.
Cards used were Evoke Cards http://www.evokecards.com/
This exercise has developed following success with using words from poems or just collected as words that are worth playing with. The blocks were prepared as patients found the small magnetic letters and thin card a bit fiddly and the chunky blocks are nice to hold and have a word on 2 sides. The idea of using the blocks came from Carol Ross http://trioross.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/writers-blocks/
This exercise was enjoyed by all and feedback included the observation that the exercise provided the opportunity to think too much about the words and also the chance to play with words and explore where that might end up
This was a group poem – here participants were encouraged to contribute words and phrases and these were collected onto some sheets of flip chart. This exercise helps identify the focus of the poem and begins a process of listening and negotiating. Everyone will have a word or phrase included and then decisions need to be made about writing poetry lines, length of stanza etc.
It was interesting to note how people used to writing (writers) found this much more difficult than patients at the Hospice. This exercise works really well with people who are not feeling very well – they don’t have to write anything but they can still contribute to the finished piece. For this exercise I used paint charts from a well known DiY retailer to harvest words (paint names etc). It was quite a lively activity and consensus was eventually reached!
Scribing – each participant was invited to choose a picture of a person. They were then asked to start describing the person in the picture and start telling a story. The person listening was to take notes and ask questions about how the person telling the story wanted it presented.
This exercise requires the listener to really pay attention to what the person is saying and not try to put words into their mouth, analyse what is being said or interpret. I often use the phrase “say what you see” as a way of helping the person being listened to to not feel inhibited by literary convention etc.
This exercise is really good for people who are not feeling very well and may not have the energy to write for themselves. The picture chosen can enable the person to let their imagination fly and develop a poem or short story that demonstrates their creative ability. It can also be part of life writing and reminiscence but that does not have to be the intention but if does evoke this then it is important that this is followed up outside the session to ensure adequate attention is given to the story that needs to be told.