Everyday Inspirations, a creative writing workshop @ Bluecoat

timthumbAs I entered The Sandon Room at The Bluecoat, I was greeted by our hostess for the afternoon’s Everyday Inspirations Creative Writing Workshop, DaDaFest’s Tammy Reynolds, who invited me to take a seat at one of the long tables, which were laid out in a rectangular shape around the room.

Once everyone had arrived, the session began and Tammy explained that she didn’t believe in writer’s block and that the aim of the workshop was to get people thinking and writing about things that they saw around them every day to help them overcome this.

She then disclosed that she thought that writer’s needed to feel comfortable with the people surrounding them in order to be able to write at their best, and asked each person in the group to introduce themselves to everyone, describing what their writing ability was and something that they had particularly noticed on their way to the venue, or when they arrived there.

After the introductions, she read out two pieces she had composed on the spot when she hadn’t been sure what she wanted to write about, a poem called Bedroom Window: 06:46, and an essay called Bluecoat Garden, then it was on to the first task, and as she emptied the contents of her handbag onto the floor in front of us to give us some inspiration for this, everyone looked a little amused.

As she showed us her possessions, she clarified that the idea of the exercise was to write about an object, while thinking about what it might mean to the person who owned it or to ourselves, and also how it got to be there in the first place. Then she told us that we could either borrow one her things, or chose one of our own, and then went round the room offering her belongings to anyone who wanted them, before allocating five to ten minutes for the activity.

The room fell silent as we began to put down our thoughts onto the paper and I tried to be creative about the packet of cigarettes that I had selected from Tammy’s handbag. At first, it was difficult, so I ended up just writing anything that came into my head, which, when I read it back later, didn’t make much sense at all, but at least it had got me thinking.

Once the task was over, we were allowed a twenty minute break to look around the building and gather inspiration from our surroundings, or we could just stay in the room and converse with the other members of the group if we wanted to, then it was on to the second part of the session, and as a couple of people had arrived during the interval, Tammy got them to introduce themselves, before she continued the workshop.

It was at this point that we were invited to discuss the things that we noticed during the interval with our companions, and separated ourselves into several different groups. We were given ten minutes to do this and whilst we were talking, our hostess came over and shared her own observations with us, which I found quite inspiring.

After we had finished conferring with each other, a poem called The Heater Repair Woman by Matthew Siegel and by a passage from one of George Orwell’s novels was read out to us, then the next writing challenge began, and each of us was given a different word, created from a random word generator, which we had to try and incorporate with what we had written earlier, although some people chose to write something completely new.

The workshop was now almost over and we were now invited to read our work out. There were several people who were up for the challenge, but I chickened out as I felt that everyone else’s would be much better than mine.

On the way home, I began to look at my surroundings in a different light. I noticed how amazing Christmas lights in the city centre looked and how angelic the choir singing on the balcony of the Royal Court sounded, and I felt that I could quite happily sit down and write about those things. This Creative Writing Workshop had been truly inspiring and I had got much more from it than I ever thought that I would.