Feedback About Previous Storyworks Retreats
“Your writing activities cajoled challenged and enticed me to experiment, to let ideas bubble and find their own path on the page.”
“I am taking back immense renewal, looseness, inspiration and freshness in my writing: a sense of flow and power.”
“When I describe the wonderous camp and your style of helping us write, words can’t cover the territory you led us into.”
“The techniques you have offered us Bridget have shown me ways to get in touch with my stories. As I’ve used your suggestions for tapping the senses and emotions, the memories have burst out.”
“Like many other people who have participated in Storyworks, I found the experience to be life changing. During that week I connected with a deep yearning to write and share with others. In some way I was completely ready for this, but more important was how the experience was structured, supported and facilitated…this is what helped to bring my yearning to fruition.
It is very interesting for me to reflect on this. Here are some of my thoughts.
How does it work?
Life writing by its nature is evocative. It calls memories to the surface, gives them voice and shares them with others. In one sense this is a simple process. When invited in the right way, it seems that memories are waiting to come forth in stories, poems, song and images. But it’s not that simple. The raw material provided by twelve people that includes presence, personality, memory, emotional responses, images and ideas needs to be skilfully worked. The raw material alone does not guarantee successful outcomes.
The features of the Storyworks process include structure, content and facilitation.
From the outset, the structure is simple, clear and offers containment. Although Bridget made some minor changes to the timetable, it more or less stayed the same. This allowed me to relax into something familiar and expected, a rhythm. It offered stability in what became a very fluid time of memories and expression. The physical structure was well supported by Trek Larapinta, which meant that we could relax knowing that our basic needs would be very well catered for: shelter, hygiene, food, safety.
The structure included the following content: input about writing or a writing exercise from Bridget, individual writing, reading and feedback. A break, a walk. We wrote a lot. There was adequate time for rest, walking, relaxing into the place we were. There was encouragement given to be awake and responsive to both one’s inner world, and the magnificent country. Morning meditation helped to facilitate this, along with periods of silence. Time out from interacting with others made it possible to drop down inside oneself more. Input about the natural flora and fauna from the camp manager helped us to become more aware of our surroundings and activate our senses. This found its way into everyone’s writing.
Bridget’s style of facilitation is by far the key to the success of Storyworks. It is light, relaxed, watchful, non invasive, encouraging, at times firm, clear and challenging. From the outset this engendered a culture of respect and encouragement in the group. This was reinforced by the guidelines adhered to for giving feedback, which focussed on spontaneous personal response and detail rather than suggestions for improvement. This built an atmosphere of deep listening and appreciation, and created safety for people to share their work. Through people’s responses I realised my writing can make an impact, and that it adds something to the world. This has been a great gift to discover, and has enabled me to take significant steps since then in the direction of living my life as a writer. I am deeply grateful.”
– Sue Fielding, 2011 Participant