Last Thursday I hosted my “Gettin’ Down (on Paper) and Dirty with Your Badass Self” Creative Writing Workshop, and it was all kinds of awesome! A room full of strangers willing to sit down, be present, and open up. We breathed together, we wrote, we created, and we shared. Most importantly, we all showed up and gave it what we had. Doing something for ourselves with no real expectation of tangible results, in the middle of the week, isn’t always easy. Attending a creative writing workshop that isn’t about becoming a better writer or helping you finish that book you started, is going to be even harder to see the value in possibly.
But I’m here to tell you there is a LOT of value in those couple of hours we spent together. We all started out a little rushed, or stressed, or even nervous. I feel confident saying that we all left feeling a little more connected, grounded, and reflective. Plus, every time I host one of these workshops at least a few people specifically share a mini (or major) revelation they had… something just clicked or an idea formed or an insight was found that was never there before. That is the power of creative nonfiction writing!
It’s amazing what a little pen to paper can do for the heart, body, mind, and soul.
So, to help inspire all of YOU to write a little more here is a creative writing prompt we did that night that you can do at home… over and over again. Personal Tip: Take out a pen and paper right now, and don’t read ahead (or that can change how the exercise goes). But instead just go step by step without reading ahead.
Start by creating six different lists. Give yourself one minute (or less) to just create a long list for each section. Write them all down on paper. The areas we created lists for were:
Now that you’ve got your lists, go through each one and circle one selection from each that jumps out to you. Really focus on listening to your intuition here. You don’t have to choose your favorite or the most special from that list, just choose what is speaking to you right here and now. Circle each of those.
Side note: Intuition is defined as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” So, really focus on that feeling you get right away when you read these lists.
Now you’ve got your six selections… it’s time to rock n roll. You’re going to want to set a timer (I always suggest this so you don’t have to worry about how long you’ve been writing and you can just focus on the task at hand.) I would say this is a great exercise to give yourself at least 10 minutes, but it’s totally up to you.
The goal – if you haven’t already figured it out – is to incorporate each of those six things into a story, essay, or poem (whatever feels right). You can approach this in any way you’d like. Some options include:
While the beauty of journaling is that it’s a sacred, safe space where you can write whatever you think or feel without having to worry about sharing it with someone else, there is something that I believe to be sacred about also sharing these moments and writings with other people from time to time. If you enjoyed this prompt and felt like something special happened here (which I did last Thursday when I wrote for this prompt) then I want to encourage you to share it with someone. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just share not only what you wrote but how you felt doing the exercise. What did you learn from it? What did you enjoy? Anything interesting come up when you were making the lists or connecting the dots?
Walking through the halls everyone looked like zombies. Eyes glazed over, no one really seeing each other. Shuffling along from cubicle to cubicle. While my mind played tricks on me, I imagined I was in a funeral home. Death was certainly in the air. Lifelong careers were ending, friendships being broken apart with a sledgehammer, all because they needed a way to make just a little bit more money.
They knew what I would say. They knew I’d be pissed so they hushed him. Like a gradeschool kid sent to timeout: “You lose your job AND you can’t tell your wife,” they said. He listened. “It’s easier this way,” they said. He left.
In bed that night we lay holding each other, with the weight of uncertainty, rejection, fear, and embarrassment baring down on us. We gazed longingly at the stars in the sky – of which we could not see from our bedroom.
“What now?” we both wondered but didn’t dare to say aloud.
When we awoke, two years later, bright, burning stars looked down upon us with ease as we sipped red wine from our plastic solo cups. The flickering campfire warmed my toes while the sweet, deep smell of earth and soil lingered in my nose from today’s explorations.
We were free. We were together. The greatest gift had been given to us in the form of a pink slip.
In case you are curious, my six things (per the list above) were: