Here’s a Mini-workshop for Spring

Spring! How I love it—everything is abloom in my neighborhood and daylight savings time started, which means I can take my afternoon walk/Happy Hour coffee break later in the day while it’s still light and enjoy all the aliveness of the season. Yesterday I came home with a sprig of jasmine stuck in my buttonhole and a dozen colorful photographs.

The Spring Equinox writing retreat and workshop I scheduled for yesterday didn’t happen. So I thought I’d offer up a three-part writing exercise we would have done during the workshop.

Here’s how it goes: Spring is a time of healing and renewal. A time for planting—gardens, flowers, new ideas. But before we can plant, we clear away the debris that may have accumulated during the long winter. This time of Awakening is also a time of releasing—of letting go of what doesn’t serve us. We put away our heavy winter things that we may have needed to keep us safe and warm, but now we no longer need them—it’s time for a spring cleaning. What do you, or what does your character, need to release in order to “bloom” in this time of healing and renewal?

Part I: Make a list of what you want to release—old ideas, habits, relationships. Maybe the list doesn’t just contain “heavy” items, but some things that might be fun or invigorating to change—no more binge-watching TV series or maybe getting rid of the old bed pillows or pictures on the bedroom wall.

Part 2: After you make the list, choose one item to write about in an extended writing. Set your timer for 15 minutes and write, writing practice style.

Part 3: Now that you’ve cleared away and made room for the new, it’s time to plant. If you could grow anything you wanted – a garden of diamonds or a patch of poems, a crop of new shoes, anything at all – what would you plant?

Sprout, Planting Seeds, Tending GardensHappy Spring. Remember what Margaret Atwood told us: “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

What did you release in your Spring Cleaning?

Idea #65 — Collage a Character

Another way I’ve found to delve deeper into a character or setting or situation is through the use of pictures or images. I love doing this and have had some “ah-ha” experiences, but I’m a shy and messy artist. I have to keep reminding myself, we’re not making Great Art here, we’re using images to provide another window into our work.


Continue reading

Place as Memory — Writing the Geography of Our Lives

“Memories are rooted in place: a lifetime of kitchens, backyards, porches, and patios. Our bedroom and our best friend’s bedroom, the street where we played until dark and our parents called us inside, the park where we picnicked, the swimming pool with its aquamarine water smelling of chlorine or the pond on the farm with its muddy banks. If you want to enter a memory, enter a room in your grandmother’s house. Remember an incident, and the place where it happened will figure prominently in the story. Everything happens somewhere, and if you want to bring the memory alive, be in the place where it occurred.
garden cottage

Continue reading