What a treat to walk through the doors of Conway Hall on June 9 2018 with the day stretching ahead of me. Four workshops exploring play, memory, childhood and life’s contrasts. One whole day of words for wellbeing.
The event was organised by Lapidus London as part of Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2018. It was made possible thanks to a successful bid for funding from Lapidus International, who put £150 towards the day.
Right from the start, the day oozed creativity. There was the ‘name bar’, where you could design your own name badge or embellish one already created for you. There was the event schedule which was presented in the form of a map, and the auction where your ticket was a word instead of a number. Then there was a book swap, a book stall and of course the wonderful workshops. Find out more about the day below and explore the writing prompts inspired by each session.
Play with words
We kicked-off with a workshop all about play! Francesca Baker led us through a series of quirky writing activities designed to help us loosen up and have fun. There were lots of smiling faces as we wrote the rainbow, experimented with blackout poetry and made up our own translations for unfamiliar words. It was a valuable reminder that play is so important for our writing, and for our general wellbeing.
Writing prompt: Choose a colour from the rainbow and write a list poem about the ideas, emotions and memories that come to mind.
A patchwork of memories
The next workshop began with a moment of calm. Our host, Narayani L Guibarra, guided us through a breathing exercise, helping us to relax and focus our minds. We went on to examine the poem ‘Clouds and Vases’ by Diane Ackerman. Later, in groups, we delved into our own memories and created a Post-It patchwork of fragments to be shared and explored.
Writing prompt: Write a poem or short story that begins with the phrase ‘I remember when…’.
A fine balance
After lunch, we immersed ourselves in the world of opposites. Heather Shakespeare got us thinking about contrasting states, taking us on a journey through our imaginations. Through a series of linked activities, we each chose and then explored a pair of opposites, investigating their qualities and relationship. The results were sometimes surprising and revealing.
Writing prompt: Write out a list of opposites (e.g. hot/cold, up/down, open/closed, etc.) Choose a pair that particularly intrigues you and write a dialogue between the two words. What would they say to each other if they had the chance?
For our final workshop of the day, we travelled back in time to our childhoods. Alison Clayburn invited us to explore significant people, places and activities in our lives when we were seven years old. Through a process of drawing, writing and sharing we were able to bring our memories to life – and, crucially, see them in a new light.
Writing prompt: Think of a person, place or activity that was important to you when you were seven years old. Write an acrostic about them, using their name as the framework for your poem.
What was my biggest takeaway from the day? It was a reaffirmation, really. That words for wellbeing matter. That there is a part of all of us which can be nurtured by playing with, delving into and sharing our words. A day to remember; thank you to all who made it possible.
About the facilitators
Francesca Baker is a writer and offers words for wellbeing workshops in prisons, universities and the community. She is Outreach Officer and Words for Wellbeing Specialist for Lapidus International. Her work focuses on creativity, curiosity and connection.
Narayani L Guibarra offers writing for wellbeing workshops at a community centre in SE London. She is on the Metanoia CWTP MSc and has many years of experience with groups through offering yoga, meditation and voice-work classes and workshops. She is motivated to help participants access their creative voice for self-discovery.
Heather Shakespeare runs a journal writing programme in a women’s prison and facilitates writing workshops in a village community centre. She has also contributed to the programme for Epsom Mental Health Week and provided writing opportunities within her local church.
Alison Clayburn offers workshops in Writing for Self Discovery and Writing for Pleasure in Rotherhithe, London SE16. She has an MA in creative writing and personal development, short fiction and poetry and has been a creative writing tutor for 30 years in diverse settings. Her main interest is the crossover between therapeutic writing and the production of powerful poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction.
Kate McBarron is a writer and blogger at www.writetorelax.com. She is passionate about the power of words to enhance our daily lives, from relaxation to self-discovery and healing.