On Saturday I went on a two-hour writing for well-being workshop. I had no expectation and went with an open mind.
The facilitator a former English teacher set the scene by explaining the bulk of her work was with children who had been excluded from school. She told a story which led to the work she does.
A mother and boy arrived for a session and were asked to tell their story. The mother somewhat overpowering led the conversation. When the child was left alone he was asked to tell his story and he proclaimed “Mum just told you”. The facilitator said you tell it again and we will write it down. As the process began the boy spotted many embellishments and facts that over time his mother had added to the story. The process of writing made the story become his and his words. After several alterations he had his story and his physicality and social interaction totally changed.
Writing is all about telling stories and we all have a story.
This concept of writing for well-being is well researched at the University of Texas and there are several books around the power of journalling.
The first exercise we did as a group was to write non-stop for 6 minutes. Initially I went into work mode thinking about what subject and how to structure it. However when you know that there are no boundaries your other senses become very apparent and I found that I was able to write about what I could see and hear. It is very important to go back to basics and have a pen and paper and even that exercise in your hands felt strangely familiar and alien all at the same time.
As a group we reviewed what we had just done and similar experiences to my own occurred:-
- Tuned into your surroundings
- Aware of other senses
- Mindfulness – in the present
The 6 minutes is crucial as it is the tipping point before your sub conscious kicks in, so the writing does not go to deep.
The second exercise we had a choice, there was the “12 Stepping Stones” or “Two characteristics”.
The stepping stones was to identify 12 times in your life that were pivotal and then just choose one to write about.
Lot of the group struggled to know what to put in and leave out with the 12 stones. However the most impactful story was one lady chose a stone that was about a visit to Thailand to see her cousin and she said writing about it made her remember that person who she was at that moment. She was confident and brave and she was excited to have found her again.
The two characteristics exercise was writing in the third person and creating actual characters but the two characteristics belong to you. By giving the two characters names it meant the removal of you, even though it’s about you. It was a subtle way of getting to know yourself and the relationship was just between you and the paper.
The facilitator never asked us to share our work as it was all about the process of writing not the content. This helped enormously, that you had no fear of “show and tell”.
We rounded up the two hours with a final exercise only 10 minutes of writing and I was delighted how calm and happy I felt at the end of the two hours.
I always advocate “What gets written gets done” however now with my coaching sessions, I will encourage my clients to journal their thoughts.
Please do let me know if you are interested in the Writing for Well-Being and we will pass on your details. firstname.lastname@example.org