I went to a local Guided Writing Playshop yesterday, at The Lotus Center in Silver City, New Mexico. The instructors freely admitted they weren’t writing experts, but were there as guides.
We took off our shoes on arrival and were led to a large yoga hall with paintings of flowers – er, lotuses – on the wall. We got comfortable. Most of the 16 or so participants chose to sit on rugs. There was a mix of ages, but only five men in the room, including one of the instructors and my 7-year-old.
We introduced ourselves and uttered one word each to describe why we were there. I said “exploration.” Then we did a breathing exercise.
Following this, we were given the first of four writing prompts. We had to note down a color, a place, an animal, and a type of food. I chose red, the wilderness, a wolf, and another wolf. Then we wrote in silence for ten minutes.
After this, we did another physical exercise. We pretended to be suspended by strings attached to parts of our bodies, and we struck various puppet poses. I’m way too cynical to be doing this kind of thing, but my little boy was thoroughly enjoying himself.
The session continued in this vein: writing prompts followed by exercises designed to make us “more centered” and “mindful.” I’ve never known what those terms mean. In any case, I think I live in a state of extreme mindfulness as I spend half my time caring for a small boy and the other half looking for things to write about.
Having said that, I did particularly like one of the prompts: we wrote three different words on three blank cards. The cards were jumbled together in the middle of the floor and then we each randomly picked out three cards. We then wrote a story based on the words on our new cards. I wrote some nonsense about a stargazer. Real nonsense. I described a creature with seven eyes gazing at pink and green stars and listening to jazz heroes plucking the strings of their saxophones.
At the end we were free to read one of our pieces to the other participants if we wished. Most of us read, including my courageous 7-year-old. I read my nonsense piece. It was the least depressing of my four compositions and I figured, probably correctly, that everyone else would read their most “meaningful”, “poetic”, “significant” piece.
Overall, it was a most enjoyable playshop. The atmosphere was friendly and some of the activities were good. I’m not sure yet about the links between mindfulness, bodily movement, and writing, but I’ll find out some day.