Recently at our September meeting, we experimented with a seasonal workshop which took us on some unexpected twists, ending in poetry. I think most of us were pleasantly surprised at how throwing what felt like a verbal spanner in the works could actually force us to take on new angles and challenges. If you’re looking for a fresh creative trigger yourself, here is how to try it:
1.) ‘The List Game’ – write 1-5 five times on a blank page. For each set of numbers, write a list of five different things you might pick up with one of your senses, e.g. five things summer smells like, five things you would hear in autumn, five things you might think about in the dark of winter etc. Try to choose these as randomly as possible, and, if you’re stuck, theme all the lists around a season. Put to one side.
2.) ‘The Stream of Consciousness’ – pick up any novel you have lying around (I chose Orlando by Virginia Woolf), select a page and line number at random and isolate one sentence or phrase. Write down that sentence at the top of a clean page. Now set your timer for 5-10 minutes and write whatever comes to your head triggered by that sentence, in a stream of consciousness – if it helps, continue the ‘story’ suggested by the phrase for yourself. Write without analysing and without stopping for that period…except, halfway through, to choose one or more items from your lists and insert them in some way into the stream. If in a group, have one person be the ‘caller’ and choose a maximum of three words to include at any given time in the writing, e.g. ‘orange leaves’, ‘moon’, ‘knife’ or freshly-baked cherry cake.’
3.) ‘The Cutting’ – re-read your paragraph(s), highlighting parts you find memorable or strong in any way. It helps if you can share the whole thing with friends, like we did, and get some reactions.
4.) ‘The Re-Make’ – take the highlighted phrases you have, and try to make a new piece of writing from them, preferably a short poem or piece of flash fiction (although they could make further story triggers). We made seasonal haiku with an autumnal flavour in the end.