Last night up at Monroe I was leading the group. Not only leading, but leading on my own as Gloria was sick. It’s one of those moments when you just take a deep breath, prepare your notes and walk in and act as if of course I can do this, of course I’m not nervous, or course I believe whole-heartedly that I have somehow reached a place in my writing studies and career (?) to present myself as a teacher. Of course.

Perhaps in an act to make the night my own, to declare my style of teaching as a tad unique from Gloria’s, or perhaps because I was worried we’d run out of things to discuss (this is clearly the more likely of the two) I came prepared with two additional writing prompts. Turned out that we had plenty to talk about, but at a certain point I realized we actually could use a break from some very intense conversation about everything from the shaman territory in stage 7 of the hero’s journey (Approach to the Inmost Cave) to discussion of the “heart” of a story, as well the “heart” of a life. So, I asked the guys if they wanted to write.

The exercise I gave was a rapid, free-writing exercise. Select three words. In this case I tried to pick words that were in someway related to stage 7 of the hero’s journey, which was the topic for the evening. Give one word at at time and allow writers to write for 2-3 minutes. The goal is to keep the pen/pencil moving at all times, even if they are just writing the word over and over again, or writing, I don’t know what to write over and over. Just write. After 2-3 minutes everyone pauses to get the next word. Again everyone writes nonstop for 2-3 minutes, picking up where they left off. Repeat with the last word.

I did this twice with the guys.

The first set of words were change, deep and friend.

The second set of words were walk, stop and turn.

What they wrote was of course beautiful. I’m always amazed at what comes out of these free-writing exercises. It’s good for a writer to take a break from analyzing writing and just write. You remember that beautiful, powerful words and images come quite naturally actually. One man, the quietest in the group all night, wrote at the end of one of his pieces, I will keep turning, turning, turning, turning, turning until I find the direction I am meant to go.

I also experienced this lovely moment of looking up and seeing seven prisoners focused on writing, everyone’s head bent toward their papers, writing as fast as they could. I felt some pride as a teacher, seeing my students work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s