Writing adventure: reflection on the first series

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This morning I hosted the final session in my inaugural, experimental series of Writing Adventures. The feedback I received circled around the theme of welcome, I think. Participants thanked me for giving them space and and a place to write, as well as guidance throughout; the space felt safe; there was something spiritual or peaceful about the exercise, or about the environment that was created in the room. Several participants told me that the writing had been therapeutic. Some found it challenging or hard, while others expressed that they’d had a lot of fun.

Ultimately, the sessions confirmed for me that this is not a writing exercise, although it uses writing as its medium. It’s an exercise about making or creating, about shaping experience, about exploring the unknown. It’s about being led to a place we never meant to go, to find something we didn’t know we were looking for. It’s an exercise that can bring a sense of peace or resolution to a problem that your mind may be working on, quietly, behind the scenes—I frequently uncover an emotional theme, something I haven’t otherwise been able to acknowledge or recognize. That is why the same “map” or “guide” can be followed again and again on these adventures and never become repetitive; there is always another story waiting to be found. We live within ever-shifting emotional states that affect how we interact in ways both profound and mundane.

Finally, I observed again that there is no perfect time to sit down and write. Forget about finding the perfect time, writers of the world! There will always be external blocks rearing up—I’m too tired, my to-do list is too long, I should be spending this time with X, it’s been a long day, I can’t squeeze it in, I just don’t feel like I can go there, not right now, maybe tomorrow, I’m too distracted, I can’t sit still. All legitimate barriers. But these barriers dissolve as soon as I sit before the page and open myself to what’s waiting to be found. Maybe those moments when we are least inclined to force ourselves to attend are the moments when we most would benefit from stopping and listening to the quiet (or clamouring!) voice within.

I arranged the first Adventure as a three-session series because it’s an exercise that becomes easier to do with practice: you figure out what risks you can take, what rules you need to break (interior self-binding rules, mainly), and how to let go and follow where you’re led. It’s the letting go that’s the hardest. It’s letting go of the voice in your head that says, This is not important. It takes practice to learn how to reply to that voice: It doesn’t matter whether or not this is important, I’m doing it. What that voice in your head won’t tell you is that you actually can’t know while you’re making something what value it may have, what necessary step it represents in the piecing together of a larger puzzle, and where this is leading you.

Imagine this. You are crossing a creek in the middle of a thick fog come down to earth. It’s like saying of a stepping stone, the only one you can see right now before you: This is not an important stone. You wouldn’t, would you. You would in humility understand implicitly that you just don’t know. You just don’t know—and it doesn’t matter. To think that it matters is to completely miss the point of what lies before you. So you step on the stone, and you come to another, and you just don’t know. And that is how you find not only where you are, but where you’re going.

xo, Carrie

P.S. No new Writing Adventures scheduled yet. Please send me a message or comment below if you are interested in participating in future Adventures, and you will be the first to know. Also, I would love to hear, from those of you who participated in the sessions, whether there was anything you strongly liked or, perhaps even more importantly, disliked.

Word of the year 2016: PEACE
Holiday

6 Comments

  1. Oh Carrie, I am so happy to hear how successful this was for you.
    I was so disappointed that I had to miss this last session. I caught some sort of nasty bug last night.
    You are right about all of it, or they were. I found it equal parts therapeutic/challenging/fun. It was the most peaceful I’ve felt in a long long time.
    Please let me know if you are doing more of these because I would really love to sign up for more chances to write with you as instructor.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this Carrie! I wish I lived closer so I could’ve participated. Perhaps something online might be neat? Not sure how that would work though. 🙂 The way you described this Writing Adventure resonates with me deeply. I am finding room to write and explore and to let go of the voice that says it’s not important.

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  3. Strong, strong, STRONG LIKE! I love the two I could attend and felt inspired, re-energized and so lovely to hear what others around the table had created, as well and make new connections with them. Thank you so much and I do hope it continues! hint hint

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  4. I leaped on to this stone in my creek quite readily (to borrow your metaphor), not knowing implicitly that it was the right stone, but it was. Writing, using words, has not ever come easy to me but I felt encouraged by your hones blog and knowing how important writing is to you and to your life. I feel more encouraged to put my thoughts on to paper instead of letting them dance and writhe and stomp in my head. It does help to find themes, find some underlying patterns. After the first week, I realized how much I could see the parallels between writing and improvising music, something else that is relatively new to me; accepting what is on the tip of my fingers, not worrying about whether it is the right next note and knowing that it will lead to another note, and another. Each is a step. And I’m excited and trusting to see where my next music career step is, just as I trusted that this writing adventure would help me.
    Thank you SO much!

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  5. I looked forward to each one of the Saturday morning writing sessions you led, Carrie, and find myself wishing now that there were more to follow. The environment you created felt very safe and welcoming indeed, which is something remarkable considering many of us were strangers to one another that first Saturday morning. I loved the inspiring poems you read to us, and the unexpected writing prompts you gave that encouraged us to freely explore ideas and feelings we may not have otherwise experienced that particular day. Surprisingly, I even enjoyed reading some of my writing with the group, which was the part of the adventure that I had been most nervous about going into it. It felt a real privilege to be part of such an open and honest sharing of something so personal to each writer who was present. I really appreciate your advice about trusting the process, of letting go, of being willing to be open to what we might find along the way –it is something I will remember as I continue to write. Thank you so much for creating this first wonderful opportunity for adventure, Carrie, and please do let me know if you plan any future sessions. I would love to participate again!

    Reply
  6. Really enjoyed this Carrie, and while I didn’t get to know the participants all that well, I felt a sense of community, which means a lot to me when I get together with others and engage in a common task.
    I would love to be involved in more and hope that becomes a reality very soon.
    My only disappointment was not being present for the third session, but a surprise 80th birthday party in Huntsville for my mother-in-law was a pretty good trade off.
    Hope to see you all again!

    Reply

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