Autumn Writers’ Workshop

An open book with magical figures walking on the pages, including a friendly dog, a young girl with an umbrella, hot air balloons. Grass grows like a lawn from the text on the page.
Image by Comfreak from Pixabay

Welcome to a wondrous writers’ workshop write-up!

A dozen signed up on a breezy autumn morning last Friday 23rd October to get creative. The purpose? To have a first try at writing their recovery story in a supportive group. The session was co-faciliated by Rebekah Horton Creations and Em Flint (RD Development Worker). We’d invited people who had a carers’ story to tell. If they wished, these could be developed and included in our new anthology of recovery stories.

Few people enjoy a round of introductions on Zoom. So instead of the usual “what brought you here?” we invited everyone to share their favourite childhood book, and their favourite grown-up book. Memories of Narnia, Winnie the Pooh, and Dr. Seuss proved to be a wonderful ice-breaker. We also learned that several of us often bought favourite books for other people when they were struggling with their mental health.

Next up, we presented the “story of telling your story.” Recovery Devon has championed the value of recovery stories for nearly 20 years now. With help from 2010 papers by Linden Lynn (our former manager) and Ines Obradovic (then a trainee clinical psychologist), we heard how telling a recovery story helps the teller, the reader, and the wider world.

Stories carry in their DNA a blueprint for survival

John Yorke

Bringing us up to date in 2020 were extracts from a resource by the Narrative Experiences Online (NEON) Project. “Telling A Story” is their brand new, co-created resource, written by a recovery group in Nottingham. We’re very grateful to NEON for letting us share a copy with our workshoppers.

Then it was time to get creative! A couple of writing exercises followed. The first was a quick-fire round of writing in response to a rather silly photograph provided by Em. Everyone shared their five-minute creations. We had a limerick, a sonnet, reflective prose, and even a short screenplay starring disgruntled donkeys Ted and Bob.

Image by Etretat on Pixabay

Next, a chance to make some first steps at telling “the big story.” Rebekah provided some gentle music, explaining how this can help with mood and focus. It certainly worked. For the next 30 minutes, we had a Zoom screen filled with heads down, writing our stories together.

After a leg-stretch and a refresh of tea, we gathered for a long share. Some told their stories in detail, others just shared a few lines of what felt comfortable. We noticed the common threads in these carers’ stories. Making time for anything, let alone writing, can be hard as a carer. Everyone felt the value of taking some time out to reflect in this way.

We ended with plans to meet again. Thank you to everyone who signed up!

If you’d like to get involved with our new book on carers’ stories, please email community@recoverydevon.co.uk. Or if you have a different recovery story to share, NEON would love to hear from you. Or just have a try at home with the help of the “Write Time, Write Place” series that Rebekah made for our 2020 lockdown Dailies project.