Week five of an eight week writing group. We've dropped to a deep place, the foundation of a writing practice under our wings and the ripping off the Band-aid sensation of reading what we've written aloud behind us. Our voices are strong, our writing muscles lean.
"When people ask about the writing class I'm taking, I tell them it's a spill your guts out class," says Amanda from the Wednesday morning group. It's true: I encourage truth telling in the writing classes I lead. Get below discursive thoughts, says Natalie Goldberg, and you'll touch a very clear place inside yourself. This is what I inspire my students to do.
We practiced sprints last week. I give a topic - root beer, for example - and we write for three minutes. In this short time span, there's no time for resistance or monkey mind. Hands move fast across the page.
Sprints grease the wheels. Rapid fire, you're birthing ideas for stories to expand upon later After four rounds of sprints (a round = writing for three minutes, then going around the group sharing what we wrote), we had broken our stride.
"Let's write six word memoirs," I say. "Your life in six words. Write several. Keep the pen going. I'll set the timer for five minutes." I read a few examples. "Ten minutes. Go."
Bare bone honesty instigates tears. When the group shares what they've written, the edges of my eyes moisten. In memoirs - six word or otherwise - we reveal our roots, where we come from, how we were raised. We stand naked sharing our truth.
Here's a list of some of the six word memoirs written last week by my students:
Mom and Dad's shouting. Still echoes.
Full of things to share. Scared.
Brother, addict. Who to blame, me?
Everything changed in Florence, age twenty
I still make coffee for two
She's the dependable one. Good daughter.
Awe creeping into patient galaxies
Now write yours. Set the timer for five minutes. Go.
PS - This could also be a fun activity to do with friends, spouse, partner, your teenage children, family members on holidays. It doesn't matter if they consider themselves writers. Try it out and drop me a line telling me how it goes.