So Paula and I decided to dive right in and try an experiment in combining her creative journalling workshop wtih elements of graphic recording. We invited members of the community who had attended Paula’s workshops previously, as well as new participants, and the response was overwhelming (well, for me anyway…Paula is probably used to receiving such a positive response to her popular workshops).
Our idea was that she would facilitate the workshop as usual – helping participants to get words on paper through a series of writing prompts, timed activities, and optional sharing of one’s work. In the meantime, I would record the highlights as I normally do during facilitated sessions. The plan was to see how graphic recording might inspire these writers visually as they worked with text, ideas, and some of their own visual prompts. In addition, we thought that having a visual record of the evening might also be a nice way to honour the participants and some of the ideas they shared at the session.
I enjoyed the evening immensely. It was interesting to record this unique experience, and as an instructor of English language learners, it was a treat to listen to English speakers articulating their creative thoughts and stories so eloquently and thoughtfully. It reminded me that having an ‘artistic community’ is something I am missing here.
Despite enjoying the experience, however, Paula and I weren’t so sure that the merging of creative journalling and graphic recording actually “worked” in the sense that we had imagined it might. For example, I wondered if the graphic recording ended up as a kind of superfluous distraction that didn’t really add anything to the workshop at all. As the writers were all quite independent and skilled at their craft, they didn’t really seem to need more than the prompts from Paula, so our idea that the poster might inspire the participants didn’t seem to come to fruition with this group.
In addition, the recording itself proved somewhat difficult, as I realized quickly after beginning with the “If I were a colour…” introductions that getting details from the writers might not be the best approach. I started to think that perhaps a more general “feel” for the session might be best, particularly with the possible goal of using the poster as future inspiration. I thought that getting too detailed might be stifling, whereas more general depictions might encourage more freedom in future brainstorming sessions.
Overall, it was a terrific experience in a number of ways – to see how the workshop runs (and get some ideas for my own creative writing!), to try something new and to work a little outside-the-box with graphic recording, and to share this experience with a group of interesting and creative people. It was a pleasure to be a part of this experiment and to brainstorm ways that we might improve it in our next session.
Note: the picture I have attached here is not quite finished, as I am trying to work with individual “quilt blocks” created by the participants in one of the writing activities. My plan is to work them into the empty squares if possible. I will post an update when this happens! As you can see, the poster displays some of the highlights of the actual writing prompts (i.e., Remembering a photograph, This is the hand that…, etc.). It also contains short excerpts from the found poetry activity that captured my imagination (“dead at foot of castle wall…”, “life is fine, fine as wine…”, etc.). It will be interesting to see how the next session emerges with an entirely different group!