Creativity off the page

Written for and published in the Lapidus 20th Anniversary Journal

Creativity really becomes of value when we experience it in our souls. Its real impact does not occur in twenty minutes of journal writing, or at a two hour workshop, but when it begins to permeate our beings and become an experience felt in everyday life. This is when it becomes less a hobby or activity and more about inner wellness.

A connected and curious mind finds inspiration all around, be this through people, places or events. The smallest insect might trigger a response, and the grandest building be a catalyst for emotion. An image in an exhibition can evoke empathy, and a piece of music transport the mind. I have run a few different writing workshops with people working in different fields, and found that they have been hugely valuable for multiple reasons. When we try new things, it forces us to grow and stretch. We might go places we aren’t comfortable with. Even if explicitly the writing is not about wellbeing, this very process will have benefits. The brain will start to think in a different way, which over time will impact how we see the world.

It can introduce new people to writing. Martin Okoli, writer and artist, and I ran a workshop in which we asked participants to bring an object that said something about them, and we undertook various exercises that used poetry, prose, collaborative writing, paint and sketching to create different representations or interpretations of the object and the person. Each person left with six page mini booklet of the work created in the evening. The event attracted artists, writers, and local people, and not only encouraged them to use different art forms, but resulted in them having multiple portrayals of what they considered to be a static thing – themselves.

Writing does not have to be a sedentary activity taking place indoors. A Writing Wander saw participants guided by Katie from Look Up London to spot interesting sights, provocative scenes and inspiring moments before I worked with them on putting pen to paper, using the location as stimulus for creative writing. The aim was to have fun, see something new, and explore and express the atmosphere, character and appeal of the surrounding area. Not only did people experience wellbeing through writing and using their imagination, but also connecting with community and a gentle walk in fresh air. I’ve used music as a prompt in workshops, which has engaged people who otherwise felt they had nothing to write about, and also provoked a surprisingly varied set of responses. Creative journaling pulls on other means of art, notably scrapbooking, drawing and craft.

Coming up is a photography and writing workshop, where those taking part will see things through a different lens, and I’ve also written about the intersection between yoga and writing, both tools for self inquiry and ways in which an individual becomes more attuned to themselves and finds fertile material for expression.

There’s no denying that writing is different to many other artforms. Much research, from Pennebaker and others, has demonstrated how writing explicitly has physical, psychological and social benefits.

But it’s worth remembering just how important the creative impulse is within us all, and that creativity can be accessed through numerous different channels. By integrating with other art forms and other areas of life we recognise and acknowledge how writing is an activity that expands the heart and mind.

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