I was introduced to this exercise at the Nibblers Writing Group in Brighton. I took it to Pimlico Writers where it was enjoyed as a starter exercise with a surprise element, a bit like Consequences but different.
Each person has a blank sheet of paper. On this you write a line of words describing a landscape with a figure in it – animal or human.
Underneath this you write one word with some connection to what you’ve just written.
Then you fold it over – backwards works well – leaving only the single word showing, and pass it to the person on your left.
On the paper you’ve received you write a line that connects to the word you see in front of you. Then you again write one word that links to what you’ve just written and fold the paper over leaving only that word visible.
And so on until you come full circle. Then open up the paper in front of you and read. At this stage you can choose to make a couple of small edits if you wish, to improve the reading aloud.
Here are some of the ones we did. It’s interesting to see how feelings and experiences come in to the writing as well as playful ideas and descriptions.
Recommended for its fun quality which also allows serious thoughts to be expressed and connections made between group members.
These include how well or not an exercise was received – did it work in terms of
engaging participants? etc, group dynamics, emotional reactions, my facilitation
and its affect on the group.
From here I go on to write on the things I consider need more attention and focus. It doesn’t need to be pages – a short description of what it is, and then whatever writing comes from it.
I’ve found reflective writing is especially valuable when leading ongoing groups and courses as I can incorporate the insight and learning into the following workshops.
Creative ways of dealing with situations, and of working with individuals or dynamics within the group effortlessly unfold through writing in this way.
To facilitate a group well and with due respect and kindness for the welfare of
all participants, a group leader needs to be aware of their own internal responses. This way they can navigate appropriate external responses.
Writing reflectively after each workshop enables the expression and processing of thoughts and feelings. It allows the facilitator to step back and put group participants at the centre of their practice. It leads to learning.
It has led me to a deeper empathy for the people I work with, insight into and understanding of their perspectives; it has deepened my understanding of my role as facilitator.
I’ve been doing this since I began facilitating writing for health and wellbeing groups in 2008. I can’t imagine running groups without writing reflectively afterwards and
recommend it as a way to develop your group facilitation practice.
Hatton, N. and Smith, D. 1995. Reflection in teacher education: towards definition and implementation.