WhiteSpace Writers’ Group: Value of the Creative Exercise

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Cue the berets and quilled pens – it’s about to get real freakin’ writerly.

For many, the very idea of writing, especially voluntarily, is akin to shoving one’s hand into a garbage disposal. Even for writers, the simple act of sitting down and actually writing can be tantamount to willingly submitting to a root canal. In fact, the novelist Thomas Mann once said, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

So why, at WhiteSpace, do a group of people – designers, copywriters, account supervisors, PR managers and anyone else who happens to wander in – sacrifice a lunch hour, sequester themselves in a conference room and, well, write?

For some, it’s a creative escape from hours of billing or a little break from a seemingly bottomless inbox of unread emails. For others, it’s a different style of writing, one with fewer rules and requires nothing more than putting words to paper – nothing actionable, deliverable or analytically driven. And, for most, it’s simply a creative endeavor with no strings attached.     

But what do we write about?

Short answer: anything. Long answer: anything. Whether it’s a prompt pulled from a hat, a line of text from a bowl, a random item from a mystery bag or an idea that’s lingered in the depths of the human imagination and subconscious mind until that very moment… it’s all fair game and worthy of words. For one hour a month, it’s no rules – just write. And share. But even that’s optional.

Our writing prompts:

  • Write an emotional truth (something you felt) into a fictional scene
  • Look at a photograph and write a story inspired by the image
  • Place random and unrelated objects in a bag, pull an item and write a scene that the item inspires
  • Write a 50-word poem (first line is 10 words, second line is 9 words, third line is 8 and so on)
  • Take a piece of writing and perform an “erasure” by scratching out selected words to create a story from the remaining text

Words, words, words

What’s music without an audiophile? A glass of wine without a sommelier? The answer is deeply philosophical and certainly too complex for a blog post, but what I’m getting at is that we don’t always write, sometimes we read a short story or poem and discuss it. We don’t do this because we fancy ourselves literary critics, but it helps keep the mind fresh and lets us take a mental detour – if only for an hour – away from the daily grind. Who knows what one theme, motif or piece of dialogue could inspire?

A few of our suggested reading:

  • "The School” by Donald Barthelme
  • “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates
  • “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood
  • “Before the Law” by Franz Kafka
  • “The Colonel” by Caroline Forché                      

Calling all inspiration 

Okay, this may sound cheesy, but inspiration can be found in some strange places and we like to share them with each other. And we’re inspired by some pretty eclectic things, including an abandoned amusement park, inspirational quotes, Hamilton the Broadway Musical, the solitude of nature, Victorian post-mortem photography, a travel blog, a cello, Dead Poet’s Society, spoken word poetry, family, friends, food and so on.

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” – E.M. Forster

For that hour each month, regardless of what inspires us or if we’re feeling inspired at all, our small group brown-bags a lunch, takes over a conference room and shares an idea and spills others onto the page – some that may never leave that room, and others that might go on to be something bigger. The experience can be cathartic for some. Humorous or even freeing for others. If nothing else, it lets the content that once lived inside our brains inhabit a new landscape and interact with other people and other fresh ideas.

Interested in our wordsmithing services? Want help starting a creative group at your company? Give us a call at 330.762.9320 or contact us here!

 

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