Writing in troubling times…….


winter lakeAlthough the lake here is full at this time and we have snow on the ground, there is not the same calm and safety for many people and communities that we know. Perhaps you or someone you know is personally affected by the fires, floods, earthquakes indelibly changing the landscape, or perhaps the  news brings it into your awareness with brutal immediacy. In these troubling times, when there are natural disasters affecting so many people and communities, it is so easy to feel paralyzed and helpless whilst simultaneously wanting and needing to offer something in whatever way we can.

So I was delighted when my friend and colleague Mary Reynolds Thompson suggested that we record a series of free audio mini-workshops on Writing for Resilience: Shifting your Emotional Landscape.

You can listen to the first of three mini-workshops here.

This episode offers a three-part writing prompt emerging from our joint work on the relationship between Inner and Outer Landscapes. The intention is to help you ground yourself in these troubling times, whatever challenges are facing you.

We hope it may be useful to you or someone you know.

Writing holds a special place among the activities that people use to calm and heal themselves. It is physical, patterned, organised, rhythmic, and directed at a goal. But it is more. It also creates meaning as it flows.

from Surviving Survival: the Art & Science of Resilience by Laurence Gonzales



Water, water………..

Last week the temperature dropped and the well froze. This meant that for a few days there was no running water in the house. Like many people, (living in the places I do) potable running water is something we take for granted – when we turn on the tap we expect to receive hot or cold water.

Frozen water
Frozen water

When there isn’t any……life is changed. I was shovelling snow to melt on the woodburner, using it in as many ways as possible. It became a creative endeavour, it became a different way of thinking. It was a reminder, an awareness. And it became possible to do without something that is usually an almost unconscious part of life. It’s an interesting lesson in resilience in fact.

Journal prompt: What happens when you, even temporarily, have to do without someone or something that you consider part of the very fabric of your life?  How do you adapt? How resilient are you?


In terms of the landscapes of people’s lives I think people are either mountain people or water people – which landscape feeds you most? Water has certainly provided inspiration for many writers and poets. Wallace Stevens said  ‘perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake’, but rivers are particularly  celebrated from Wordsworth’s  series of sonnets on the River Duddon to Alice Oswald’s narrative poem Dart.

Unfrozen water
Unfrozen water


Journal prompt: What is your relationship with water? What are your most evocative memories of water (good or bad)? Write from the senses – smell, sight, sound, taste, touch. Write in prose or poetry.