“One of the saddest things in life is that we have this alphabet, 26 letters in spoken english, we have this alphabet and we are afraid to use it,” Jan Derbyshire starts the workshop with a piece of white paper and the letters of the alphabet.
She adds ‘mind, rearrange and BEGIN’ to the board and leads the group through three rounds of spoken words. First Derbyshire asks them to hold a squooshy ball and describe what they can pretend it is. Then she asks them to give it a funny voice and let it say something… anything.
The third round has people talking about what drives them mad. And that is what they start writing about. The thing that makes it easier to write for ten minutes without stopping and without allowing the editor from within to stop your voice from appearing on paper is that you are not writing from your own point of view. You keep that quiet. You write from the point of view of an object in your house that you have identified earlier. For some it is a stick, for others it is flowers or a part of their wheelchair.
The continuous writing proves to be cathartic. The group feels safe enough for people to be angry, to cry and to be funny about very private things. Derbyshire explains that in a longer workshop she would help the writers put together from the pages of unfinished sentences, cut-off words and a dearth of punctuation, a monologue that can be performed or read in quiet. Something to show that we can all write.
Something to show that when you silence the editor within and write out your thoughts without hesitation, that when you throw 90 percent away, what is left is something that you haven’t said before or not in that particular way and that it will be something that connects people to yourself. Something that will stick people to you like the sticky papers a different group stuck to the floor in the earlier workshop; the workshop about what connects people to each other. These fresh thoughts compel the listener to immerse themselves in the world that the writer’s imagination calls forth.