Reflections On Our First Writing Workshop Without Writing

Writing without writing experiments

Over two weekends in Wellington a group of writers stepped outside their comfort zones and approached their creative processes using sound, visual art, craft and movement. Fiction writer and teacher Pip Adam led the group weaving reflections on other art forms seamlessly into insights about writing.

Artist Rebekah Rasmussen gave a guest talk, bringing a fine arts lens to creative practice and new angles on thinking about aspects of practice such as how to decide when a piece is complete – by thinking about whether it has resolved itself rather than whether it is finished as well as a very simple maxim on titles – does it attract or detract from the work?

For many of the group it had been a while since we’d played with paint, wool and paper and the freedom to use these objects and create a 3D response to a creative problem that existed on the page or in our heads opened up new doors.

“The workshop helped me to move outside of (sometimes traumatic) mindset of words existing only on a page and think about and see the characters,relationships and plot lines from a different perspective,” said one participant.

Our exercise between sessions was to create a piece that represented a struggle we were facing in our current work and to workshop this in a group. Some participants brought sculptural pieces, others used objects as metaphorical representations of character and relationships, others created sound narratives and song.

“The format opened up new possibilities that were not immediately on the page and I would recommend that anyone stuck with a writing problem try taking it off the page and into another creative medium. I feel like I’ve finally figured a way through a series of simultaneous narratives that I’m writing,” says Kirsten, Oceania Director and participant.

But perhaps the words of another participant Andy Blick best sums the intention and scope of the workshop, “In a society of ever-present constraint and control, a course such as this allows people to experience the precious, small freedoms of their own creativity.”

Adam will next teach at the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat on January 22nd – 24th, 2016.

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