I took part in one of the Wise Words Festival’s writing workshops a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be fun (it was), I thought it would be interesting (it was) and I thought that I might get some writing out of it (I did). What I didn’t expect was that I’d be reminded of something so fundamental that I can’t believe I’d forgotten it.
The wonderful Sarah Salway had us all gathered around a bench in the garden and we began by doing some free writing, the kind of thing I do fairly often. But then we began a more structured exercise, focussing on our surroundings and listing anything that impacted on our senses. Between us we soon built a huge long list of concrete ‘things’ that were in the park. (On a side note, it was interesting to see which senses were predominant; sight and sound registered most with the group).
Sarah set us the task of coming up with metaphors for some of the objects. While trying to think of creative and imaginative metaphors, I started to struggle to think of ANY metaphors that seemed even vaguely appropriate. I could honestly feel the tendrils of my brain searching and stretching to find them.
Some of mine were flowers are farewell kisses, the mud is an empty promise, the grass is a whisper, the sunlight is a flicker of tomorrow.
We also generated poems using these, and played around with garden memories. At the end of the workshop we tied our poems to fences and trees around the Westgate Gardens.
It was the first time in ages I’d done these kind of exercises, and I could feel it! I had forgotten the benefit of making myself write things I wouldn’t usually, I was also reminded of the power of writing in different locations. It’s far too easy to get caught up in a ‘this is my desk where I write’ or get stuck in a comfortable way of writing, so it’s good to stretch those imaginative muscles and exercise from time to time.