Writing workshop revelations – Cape Cod

“So how did the July 18 Escape to the Cape Writing Workshop go?”  Unexpected.  Magical. Revealing.  All elements yearned for by a writer. (I breathed a sigh of relief.)  I’ll do it again on August 22.  (See link at the end).

When hypnotic recall exercises are used for writing, surprising paths beckon.

On July 18, seven of us were at my home on the Cape, the temps were mild, and the birds were twittering. One person said, “This hypnosis thing, I’ve been anxious about it all night.”

Of course!  Who wouldn’t be?  But I reassured our merry band that the guided imagery was relaxing, allowing stories or scenes easily to appear unbidden.

Nobody was turning into a zombie, no clucking like chickens or howling like dogs. Sharing was voluntary.  Like butterfly hunting, we were going to capture sights, sounds, and sensations from long ago memories to use in our writing later.

“I’ve had a hard childhood, what if something really painful comes up?” asked another.

I said, “Your subconscious won’t let you deal with anything you’re not ready for, and if does come up, maybe it’s time to write about it.”

That morning, I led a relaxed journey to explore one’s “Innermost Wish.” Now there’s a subject we all feel strongly about.  Blocks, presumptions, safety issues, and old tapes abound when it comes to our deepest desire.  They lie at the heart of insightful stories and lessons.

Sounds like therapy?  Well, isn’t great writing therapeutic? What is vital is the emotional connection to the story yet to be written. Too many write from a distance. Make the reader feel something. If you feel it, you can convey it. That’s what sets stellar writing apart.  How can that happen if the writer is not emotionally engaged from the start?

A meditative mindset takes you there. The starting point of a story is emotional connection, and ends with a lesson universal to all.

Now back to the room where everyone’s eyes are closed.  Often in a guided meditative state, tears will flow.  It’s not sobbing or crying.  It’s just a physical release, followed by relief and clarity.  Oh, there were tears.

After the exercise, folks penned details of their experience, quickly jotting down thoughts and sensations as if awakening from a dream they wanted to capture.

Over lunch there were a whole lotta wows! Yay! The most anxious person from earlier was the one who shared the most deep insights.

Is there anything better than sitting in the sunshine, feeling safe and connected with others?

One person felt bad.  “I didn’t feel anything. I had a hard time with it.  I couldn’t relax.”

I said, “Maybe your Inner Judge wouldn’t let you relax as a form of protection, as if to say, ‘What is this?  What’s going on here?’  This afternoon, now that you know what to expect, maybe you will relax more.”

After we finished turkey sandwiches, farm fresh salad with roasted vegetables, cold melon and watermelon soups, and Italian caponata (eggplant with onions, celery and tomatoes), it was time to have another writing adventure.

We took a relaxing, gentle journey with the Inner Child guiding the way to a memory that wanted to be written.  More release as scenes and visions came to mind.  When it was time to “come back” many reluctantly opened their eyes.  The relaxation was that good.

As everyone again wrote in their journals, one person left to write in a separate space.  Long after people broke for dessert (fruit and Key Lime Pie), she was still writing and writing and writing.  This was the person who “felt nothing” in the morning session, but now had a breakthrough recalling a deliriously happy day on the beach when she was teenager.  Recently, she had gone through so much sorrow that she half expected to return to a sad memory.  But no, she was cavorting by the ocean with her family and later told me, “It was like my inner child was saying, “Look!  You can still be this happy!”

For me, it always is wondrous to “be let in” by the trust and openness of strangers-no-more.

So, let’s do it again.  This time I’m going to limit it to eight people because all agreed it was an ideal number.

Escape to the Cape II: Saturday, August 22, 2015:  10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

A delicious lunch to be provided – $95.00

East Falmouth address to be given to registrants

REGISTER HERE – LIMITED TO 8 PEOPLE

Deadline: August 15, 2015




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Suzette Standring

SUZETTE MARTINEZ STANDRING is a nationally syndicated columnist with GateHouse Media. Her two award winning books, The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists (2014) and The Art of Column Writing (2008) are used in journalism courses such as Johns Hopkins University. Suzette is a past president of The National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the host of It’s All Write With Suzette, a cable TV show about writing. Visit www.readsuzette.com or email suzmar@comcast.net
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