The musician and artist, Laurie Anderson, suggests that all creatives should describe themselves as ‘multimedia artists’ because no-one knows what the hell it means. She wrote: “It’s so vague. No one can say, ‘Hey, how come you’re a jazz person, and you’re making a pop opera?
“Genres are for bins. ‘What bin should we put you in, so we that we can sell what you do?’ Ignore the bins.”
In Lapidus, we enjoy ignoring the bins, particularly the bins marked ‘publication’ and ‘success.’ I’ve always thought it was a strength of our organisation that we detach ‘writing’ from ‘writing well.’ This is not to say that we don’t enjoy skilled and excellent writing, but neither do we bow down to it. Writers for wellbeing write from the heart and guts and when we read aloud and share our work, it is often very powerful and moving.
What I’m noticing in writing for wellbeing, and I’m sure it’s the same where you work, is the experimentation with art forms and the glorious sound of art forms crashing together. Because we aren’t overly worried about ‘quality’ a lot of our writing, W4W facilitators aren’t afraid to bring in drawing, painting, using play, roleplay, music, yoga and tai chi to use in conjunction with writing and poetry.
This eclectic spirit again reminds of Laurie Anderson. “Be as playful as possible,” she says.”It’s the thing that is the easiest to forget when you start doing things that have ‘big themes’ and you have to work in certain ways. Most of the things that I’ve made, I’ve made in the spirit of goofing around with stuff. Goofing around. Be playful. Have a really good time and you’ll find some interesting things.”
While we are in experimental mode, we are more likely to fool our frontal lobes into relaxing their ‘shoulds and oughts’ and we might just end up writing more freely, spontaneously and be prouder of what we produce! Aim high, I say, but don’t fetishise publication and writing ‘success.’
I know some people will be saying I’m showing signs of narcissism and exhibitionism here. But frankly, I’ve counselled thousands of people of all ages who are overly-modest and afraid of failure. And very few people who are, like me, pretty confident and ‘have a go’ about life. Trying new things is a muscle and you grow muscles by trying new things and toughening yourself against fear of failure. Works for me!
Barbara Bloomfield runs courses about writing for wellbeing, and is an experienced author, counsellor and supervisor. www.barbarabloomfield.com