Over the past several months, I’ve witnessed courage and risk-taking in my writing groups. Once we establish our container for non-judgmental listening, everyone is encouraged to do timed writing from prompts, then read aloud their fresh writing. For many, this is the first time they have ever shared their words in this way.
Listeners are guided to listen for what is strong in the writing, and then share what they recall from the words they have heard with no interpretation – perhaps a single word or a phrase like “yellow sunflower” or “light dancing on leaves”. Each listener is guided to reflect back words and phrases that stand out, that are remembered.
This simple and profound practice of recall has several benefits for developing writing confidence:
• One of my writers has shared that when they “recall” the words or phrases with no interpretation, it allows them to stay in the heart. This is such a profound observation. The moment we begin to interpret what we hear, we have a tendency to go back into our intellectual minds.
• Another writer shared that when a group of writers recall beautiful words or phrases in someone else's fresh writing, that writer receives the equivalent of "The Gaze", which all newborn babies need from their caregivers. As adults, we continue to benefit from receiving The Gaze of others. Our writing practice of reading aloud and being heard offers everyone an antidote to the inner critic, which provides nourishment for our desire to write.
• For those who are writing memoir, you can use recall to build a piece of writing, as if you’re in the moment. Use each of the senses and bring the smells, sights, and sounds of an experience to life. Your writing will come alive as you evoke each sense. Before you start writing about an important event, try making a list of sensory bullet points – images that stand out in your memory. Then bring those to life in timed writing. You may be pleasantly surprised!
In this supportive environment, writers report feeling a sense of freedom and safety to show up to speak and be heard. As members of an intimate writing group like this, we continue supporting each other on our respective journeys and nurturing our heart connections as we grow our manuscripts.