Written by Emma CrowE
On April 2, 2022, the CWU Library put on a creative writing workshop called “You Are Your Best Story” as part of their Community Resilience in Times of Change series. I attended the event as a writer first and a HYPE member second. This is what I learned.
Poet Chelsey Richardson spoke with students and community members about how to write as a form of self love. Each person that attended the workshop received a copy of her poetry collection All Water Has Perfect Memory.
All Water Has Perfect Memory explores trauma and the very real dangers that we face in the world. Topics such as trauma and stress are difficult to talk about, but writing can be a form of catharsis.
As a poet, I use my work to process things I have never spoken about out loud. It is not a cure-all, but it can be the start of a healing journey. It’s like a weight is lifted off your chest, and it becomes a little easier to breathe.
Chelsey opened the workshop with her own story. She’s been writing poetry for most of her life, and, even though she didn’t realize it at the time, she used writing a form of trauma expression and stress relief.
Using her own personal experience with writing for self love along with some research, Chelsey brought an interesting and enlightening exercise to the workshop.
Writing as Self-Love
The first step of the exercise is to think about two things that are currently stressing you out. It could be a small thing like someone cut you off in traffic, or it could be something like body image issues.
The two things I wrote down were:
- Where should I live next year?
- What MFA programs should I apply to?
The next step is to cross off the one that stresses you out the most. Save that for another writing session.
Then write one statement about the thing you have left that you know to be true. For example, I crossed off my first stressor and focused on the second. Then I wrote down, “I want to continue writing poetry.” That is a statement I know to be true, and it relates to my stressor.
Once you have your stressor and your statement, write! It doesn’t matter what form of writing you focus on, as long as you are getting words down on the page. At the workshop, we wrote for about 10 minutes.
Take what you wrote and read through it. Do you have a favorite line or two? It doesn’t have to be flowery or the best thing you’ve ever written, but it does need to call to you for some reason or another.
Take that line (or lines) and start a new piece of writing with that as the beginning. Now when you write, think of imagery, metaphor, and all the things you associate with creative writing. Let your reader see what you do. We wrote for about 5 minutes.
Now you have two pieces of writing. Choose one to focus on and put your editing cap on. This is where you add in words, phrases, pieces of imagery that were floating around in your mind. This is also where you might scratch out pieces that no longer fit your vision. Take your time and mold the piece into what you desire. We spent 10 minutes on edits, but you have all the time in the world.
Just because you finished this exercise doesn’t mean your piece has to be done. You could take days, weeks, months (even years!) to revise, rewrite, and make it into what you dream.
More from CWU Libraries
CWU Libraries has two more events in their Community Resilience in Times of Change series. Join them virtually on April 6 for an author talk with Dr. van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score; Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
Venture down to the Hal Holmes Community Center on May 14 for the Growing with Change Family Workshop led by Dr. Amy Claridge and Hannah Windhorn from CWU Child Development and Faculty Science. The workshop will focus on processing change during difficult and traumatic events.
For more information, visit the CWU Libraries event calendar.