Creative Writing at Headspace

By Andrew Hudson

As many are aware, Headspace offer a diverse range of activities which allow members the opportunity to demonstrate and build their creative talents in a fun and supportive environment. On Friday 20th May, they ran a creative writing session. Creative writing has been a strong passion of mine since childhood, so I was excited to learn of an upcoming session which would be focused on this topic. As usual, the fact that I was to be among a large group was initially a little daunting for me, but again I found the atmosphere was structured around fun and support which helped subdue my nerves, making the experience an enjoyable one.
The session was managed by two fellow members, both of whom evidently have an excellent understanding of creative writing technique. The session included various writing tasks aimed at exploring our creative abilities, and the delivery of each activity exemplified professionalism, adeptness, and clarity.

The First Task

The first exercise asked us to create a new definition for a word of our choice, and dictionaries were provided to assist us in our search. Spanish texts were also available for us to expand our search criteria to greater depths, and I capitalised on this by seeking out words of poetic pronunciation whilst others settled for more mainstream terms. I found that the exercise challenged our imaginative and creative capacities to the maximum, which is always a positive. Also, the task encouraged us to discover words that our vocabulary was previously lacking. This is especially true in regards to myself. I ought to point out here that the definitions we devised had to relate to recovery and hope, since we have shared experiences and have subsequently gained unique and individual interpretations in relation to these themes. There were some impressive and humorous (and I mean humorous in a positive light) descriptions occurring in response to this task, and both organisers had presented some fairly poignant material of their own.
Coming up with ideas on the spot or under pressure has always been a struggle for me, and this difficulty was part of the reason for my engagement in these activities; developing the ability to overcome such a struggle to hone my quick-thinking skills. When I expressed these concerns to the group, they offered support and encouragement.

Task Two

The second exercise asked us to consider symbols of recovery and hope, and the organisers explained this by analysing a carefully selected example. The symbols could be as minimal as an encouraging (or negative) statement from a loved one or healthcare professional, or as vast or universal as space. Again, a combination of poignancy and humour materialised from this exercise, and evidently consideration was put into it. Whilst, in comparison to the previous task, this had amplified modestly in terms of difficulty, it remained a challenging and beneficial journey, primarily because it assisted us in reflecting upon the positivity that encouraged us towards recovery and wellbeing, and to value it. I personally find it difficult recalling the positive aspects of my wellbeing, for it is the negativity which has contributed the most memorable impact. This exercise helped me to recollect the most favourable moments that helped my recovery, despite only managing to uncover a handful of such memories.

And Finally…

The final exercise was the most productive, I found. We were asked to write a short letter to our future selves and to consider the possible stage of recovery we may have reached in five year’s time. Again, it needed to relate to the prospect of recovery and hope and, as with the previous exercise, the difficulty had moderately increased. There was a selection of philosophical and poignant pieces resulting from this task, and many included elements of humour and dejection into their work. But, in my case, as I mentioned earlier, my mind had drawn a blank, as is often the case when I am requested to produce work under pressure. I must emphasise: I cannot blame peers for this; it’s just the way my mind works, combined with an inability to manage my nerves that prevents me from thinking on the spot. This observation aside, there was a sense of approval in regards to this exercise, and I presume this was down to the opportunity to finally let our creativity pour out.

To Summarize

The session was delivered professionally and aptly. Support for the organisers, and to each other, was appropriately applied and in abundance. I got volumes of inspiration and learned a great deal from members about themselves and about myself, too.
I was really impressed with the group’s dedication and enthusiasm, and with the organisers’ approach and passion for the subject they were tutoring. There was minimal judgement, no ridicule or mockery; it was an atmosphere of friendliness and merriment.
Looking forward to future sessions, and will post more in due course.

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