What on earth is a ‘Creative Writing Laboratory’ and why should I try one?
Research has shown the incredible benefits of the arts on health; both mental and physical. In the last couple of months alone I have come across new research providing greater scientific evidence of the powerful effects of expressive arts. I heard, for instance, at the Culture, Health and Well Being Conference in Bristol this week, that changes occurring in the human genome, ‘turned on’ following severe trauma and resulting PTSD, are seen to be resolved ‘turned off’- through a holistic approach to healing that includes poetry and other forms of expressive writing. There has been measurement of cortisol changes in saliva to evidence stress reduction, heart rates and breathing have been monitored alongside ability to focus, levels of energy and more, much more, and all point to further evidence of how effective the creative arts can be as a tool for healing.
If only a GP could prescribe a course of poetry, a packet of short stories, a spray of salsa dances, a dose of fiction!
The idea for the Creative Writing Laboratory came from my experience of writing a novel about things that scared me and made me angry – and how the writing of it released me from feeling helpless and stuck. That novel was CULL (more about that in next blog.)
My idea was to create a safe space for people to explore a multitude of creative writing techniques and find ones that they could employ that would also increase their feelings of well-being, of hopefulness and curiosity. In my Creative Writing Laboratory, everyone is a researcher, a lab technician, exploring their own process.
We have run three 6-week laboratories over the year, delving into many layers of creative writing, from short stories to sonnets, nature writing to nihilism, memoir to metaphor and much more. The Labs are informal and convivial (and no one is asked to read or present work unless they wish to). Sometimes there are biscuits.
Then you are in luck! The fourth 6-week Laboratory course begins next Thursday 29th June at Springfield Community centre from 6-8pm. Drop in and have a taste if you are unsure and don’t take it from me. Here is a lovely testimonial from one of the Lab participants instead:
Two writing courses down with Tanvir and still I want more. There is, for me anyway, so much to like. What I want as a writer still learning the craft is: a safe space to try new ideas, a supportive space to share emerging work, an inspiring space to make me want to do more, and a funny space to remember that it ain’t worth doing unless you can get a kick out of it. Tanvir provides all this, and much more. Highly recommended, as long as you do not take my place on the next course. — Malcolm Sinclair, June 2017