Thinking of running a writing group? Already organise workshops but want to enhance them? Here are a few top tips from our community.
A few years ago, on a trip to London, I met a woman named Clare. She runs a project called Urban Curiosity. We ordered lattes and deliciously buttery breakfast treats, and I asked her, “What’s this project all about?”
It’s pretty simple. Mainly, she leads people on walking tours throughout the city of London. People wander through different neighborhoods, and through beautiful green parks, noticing the trees, noticing the sky, the clouds, the pets, the people. The only rule is that you have to put away your phone. No photos. No videos. No texting. Just walk.
“I want to inspire people to look up, not down,” Clare told me.
I remember feeling a rush of energy in my body, almost like my skin was tingling, when Clare said those words. I remember thinking, “Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.”
I watched a short film about a man who set up a high-powered telescope on a random sidewalk in Los Angeles and invited strangers to peek inside and look at the moon. It’s incredible how each person—all ages, all kinds of people—react in the same way. “Oh my god. Wow. Just…oh my God.” The filmmaker concludes this tiny, 3-minute film by saying:
“We should look up more often.”
Imagine if we looked up into the sky, and into people’s eyes, as often as we look down at our phones. Imagine the difference it would make. We would all walk around shimmering, awestruck, grateful, just one big collective WOW.
At least once a week, I have one of those weary, frazzled moments when my to-do list feels never-ending…when my inbox feels frighteningly full…when the quarterly reports come in and the book sales aren’t as high as I thought they would be…when I feel very small and very insignificant. Those are the moments when I feel tempted to dive into a digital device to escape and numb out. Instead, next time, I will try to remind myself:
The answer I’m seeking is not down on my laptop screen, or my phone. It’s up. It’s out there. It’s above and beyond. In the trees, the sky, and the stars.
Every month we have a chat with a Lapidus member, and get them to share their words and wellness journey. First up, it’s Pam Blamey.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m a British Colonial Empire girl by birth but not by political persuasion. My father was a New Zealander, my mother was born in Kenya to British parents. I migrated from Kenya to South Africa as a teen and then to Australia with my husband and children in 1981 to escape apartheid. We settled in Brisbane and when my children went to university I did too. I studied Social Science, where I was introduced to Joseph Campbell and Carl Gustav Jung, and later did a Masters in Art Therapy. Before that I had been a nurse and a teacher of English as a second language. At some point my childhood love of fairy tales was re-ignited into a full-blown passion when I read an anthology of tales with a Jungian commentary and I knew I had found my vocation.
I have been writing and journaling all my life. Early on, I realised the power in putting things into words, and writing helped me to heal when my mother committed suicide. When I left my second staff journalism job to go freelance in 2001, I used journaling, along with studying lyric writing and acting, to unblock myself creatively. Later, I trained in life coaching and teaching and set up a successful English tutoring practice. Through this, I discovered that I had a talent for helping people to overcome the fears, blocks and shame that can stop them from fully-expressing themselves in writing.
Carolyn Shanti is the author of ‘Trap, Prey, Lust’. The novel is based on the true story of her own childhood, where she was brought up in a wealthy and privileged family in England. A secluded and idyllic mansion, surrounded by acres of private property was where she spent her childhood years. It was also a place of dark shadows and sexual secrets. Her father, a prominent businessman in the fashion industry was a member of a well-known occult society. As a young child, Carolyn suffered ritual sexual abuse and was raped, not only by her own father but members of the society. She was ‘groomed’ and the use of mind control techniques were put in place to work against her remembering the abuse or the perpetrators of these acts of violence.
Kate Heaslip runs Book Incubator, an organisation that runs literacy workshops for primary schoold children in Australia. The focus is on improving literacy, telling a story, and boosting creativity. Francesca Baker, Lapidus’ Outreach Manager, asked her a few questions…
A new report entitled A Society of Readers, commissioned by the charity The Reading Agency and conducted by think tank Demos, finds a significant body of evidence to show that reading can help to combat the growing issue of loneliness, as well as acting as a tool to protect future generations from loneliness. With nine million people in the UK currently feeling lonely "often" or "always", the research shines a light on the benefits of using reading as a form of social connection. To find out more about the report and what it means, we caught up with Edward Cutler, Digital Communications Officer at The Reading Agency.
“Write here, sanctuary” creative writing for refugees and people seeking asylum - Arts & Health
Theodore Stickley, Ada Hui, Michelle Stubley, Francesca Baker and Michael Craig Watson
“Write here, sanctuary” creative writing for refugees and people seeking asylum is a study published in Arts & Health by Theodore Stickley, Ada Hui, Michelle Stubley, Francesca Baker and Michael Craig Watson that looks at the efficacy and affect of creative writing workshops for refugees run by Write East Midlands in three cities – Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
Free to enter, the Spread the Word Life Writing Prize run in association with Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, aims to find the best life writing from emerging writers from across the UK. The Prize defines life writing as ‘intended to be true’, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences and is not fiction.
Every month or so, we are sending our outreach officer, Francesca Baker, out to bring back an interesting story from the field of words for wellbeing. Here is the first of these stories!
In October 2017 Jane Moss embarked on a three year research project to create a community novel. Her question is ‘what would happen if a community wrote a novel using a combination of pens, apps and laptops?’ Or, to put it another, more academic way, ‘What is the potential role for digital media in co-authorship of a community novel?’
We thought this sounded interesting – and fun – so caught up with Jane to find out more.
In recent years bibliotherapy has hit, if not the mainstream, at least a library or health service near you with programmes such as the Books On Prescription scheme, where self help and advice books are prescribed to support people with certain illnesses or ailments. It’s good recognition of something that people have known for many years –advice, inspiration, education and solace can be found through reading.
As writers we spend a lot of time in our heads. Thoughts form words that form phrases that we process in the mind and present to the page. Sometimes the stories in our heads represent our experience in the world, but at other times they are born of mental processes than our bodily knowledge. Neither is wrong or right, but the difference is worth acknowledging.
Book Review by Francesca Baker