Today at the mill
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working,” Pablo Picasso.
When Bill Breckon told me that quote yesterday it inspired me to find a way to weave the message into today’s post it.
So, today, I taught the students the value of what Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls ‘paying attention’ and ‘taking an artist’s date’, what Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones calls ‘speedwriting’ and what Anne Lamott calls the ‘shitty first draft’. I believe that it is better to have written something that can be polished later than to have written nothing at all.
Next, I sent them all off on a walk around the grounds here at the watermill, through Bamboo Walk or past the brook, for 15 minutes and then asked them to return and write whatever came into their heads for 15 minutes. It would possibly be no better than a ‘shitty first draft’ of their next piece of writing
While they wrote I kept my eye on the clock and those 15 minutes felt like an eternity as I listened to the sound of pens moving across paper and pages being turned over as more lines were filled.
“How was that for you?” I asked.
“Marvellous!” said Sue, who, from the look on her face, was still basking in bliss.
“Thank you for reminding me that I need to do this every day,” said Terry Anne.
“Who discovered that magic happens half way down the page?” I continued. Everyone nodded in recognition of all they had achieved in just half an hour.
I concur with Picasso wholeheartedly. For as the students ‘did something else’ – in this case walking, looking, experiencing and noticing things in silence, their creativity was awakened and the 15 subsequent minutes of writing flew by.
Tonight, at feedback time, we will find out what magic evolved from each one’s experience when they share the pieces they are creating as a result.
Yesterday at the mill
Are you still wondering about the outcome of the students’ pieces about being naughty during childhood that I mentioned in yesterday’s blog? Well, Pamela evaded jail for smuggling gin into school that got her classmates so drunk they needed to get their stomachs pumped. Laurence did his homework and read us the first five pages of his memoir. Jane pushed her little brother into a cess pit (allegedly) while Sue stole all the marzipan off a precious post war Battenburg cake, stuffing it into her mouth in one go. Terry Anne claims she never did anything naughty though her brother set fire to their back yard. Everyone did their homework and no one was made to sit on the Naughty Step.