Mindful Writing Day, 22nd June 2019

Q: What do castles, mindfulness and bumblebees have in common?

A: They all featured in Lockerbie Writers’ Mindful Writing Day!

Read on to find out more …

Above, some of Lockerbie Writers’ members: Rita, Paula, Steph, Kerrie and Kath

After six months of planning, the big day was here – and the Lockerbie Writers were ready!

On Saturday 22nd June 2019, Lockerbie Writers hosted their biggest event to date: a mindful writing day at the Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie. The group, which has now run a number of successful workshops and events, currently have ten members with a variety of writing interests and styles, while their sister group A Novel Approach consists of around seven people (with some attending both groups).

Keen to build on the successful of their 2018 National Writing Day author talk with Sara Maitland, this time the group had sought funding to put on a full-day event. Thanks to the generous support of DG Unlimited and Dumfries and Galloway Council, they were able to invite local author and writing tutor Margaret Elphinstone to attend and to provide her expertise.

Margaret began the day by inviting participants to mindfully explore the hotel’s garden. The day with busy with a fantastic attendance of twenty-seven people, but there was plenty of space outside for peaceful individual reflection in the summer sunshine.

Participants took their time and tapped into each of their five senses, in order to see what ideas and memories might be summoned up.

Once back inside, Margaret then led the group through a writing exercise which built on these sensory experiences. Responses were incredibly varied – from idyllic afternoons in the garden through to complete short stories told from the points of view of bumblebees and pinecones!

Margaret, the author of nine novels and an experienced writing tutor, then entered into a lively and informative Q&A session with the audience.

After lunch, it was the turn of the Lockerbie Writers! PR Manager Paula Nicolson, an experienced copyeditor and writer of a mixture of genres including poetry and children’s stories, began by demonstrating a relaxing breathing technique, ideal for practising before you sit down to write. She then led participants through a mindful eating writing exercise, which proved to be very popular.

Next up was chairperson Steph Newham, an experienced tutor whose writing often focuses on women’s issues through history including childbearing and motherhood. Steph led an exercise which involved visualising a childhood place. Again, this was a fruitful prompt for many participants, with some travelling back in their mind to gardens, houses and rooms which they had not consciously thought about in many years.

Last up was Events Manager Kerrie McKinnel, a writer of character-driven, modern-day pieces, who also runs writing workshops for all ages through her business. Kerrie led the participants through another visualisation, this time imagining and then writing about a castle, before moving on to a short exercise on happiness and gratitude.

The day concluded with the opportunity for all participants to read out one piece of writing – they had the opportunity to choose from any of the short pieces which they had produced over the course of the day, and there was a wonderful mix of genres and ideas. Some had produced complete short stories or poems, while others had sketched out ideas which they now felt motivated to go on and continue in their own time.

There were congratulations in store for the happy winner of our free raffle, who walked away with a copy of the Lockerbie Writers’ anthology.

Finally, member of local writing groups were invited to speak about their offerings. In addition to Lockerbie Writers, there were representatives from Annan Writers, Moffat Writers, Moffat Crime Writers, and Carlisle Writers. One of the original aims of the day event was to provide opportunities for beginners and nervous writers to find out about the groups and networks within the area, and at the end of the day there were several people who left with plans to contact or attend one of the groups.

What a fantastic day! Here is a little selection of the anonymous feedback which we received:

“Thank you for organising a great day!”

“Thank you for allowing this opportunity! It was an excellent day full of inspiration!”

“Very well organised.”

“Very enlightening, allowing all of us to expand our joy of writing.”

“Interesting combination of mindfulness (relaxing) and creative writing.”

“This was a great opportunity for me. Thank you! Please host another event like this!”

“Well done ladies!”

And thank you too for your kind words!

Thank you to everyone who attended our mindful writing day. We had a great time and it is obvious from the feedback that the participants did too! Thanks once again to DG Unlimited and Dumfries and Galloway Council whose kind support made the event possible, thank you to the Somerton House Hotel for providing a friendly and bright venue to work in, and to everyone at the Lockerbie Writers group for their hard work over the last few months.

We are already looking forward to the next one!

Writing Challenge – May 2019

Did you know that May is National Share-a-Story month?

Not that we need an excuse to get writing!

You were certainly ready to share your stories this month, with lots of interesting pieces coming in response to the prompt. In 100 words, you had to write a story or poem in response to the photographs and this opening: “You are out for a walk when your foot catches on something. You pick it up – it is a rusted piece of metal, perhaps part of a hinge from an old gate …”

Here are some of our favourites!

‘Double Take’ by Deborah Redden

Legend has it that a handsome wizard fell in love with a mortal girl, and upon her rejection – for the cynical beauty did not believe in unconditional love, he took to the forest. Here, he buried a lock and key, which would trap the souls of scoffing unromantics, changing their lives forever. If only I’d had more faith in those stories, been less obstinate! If I hadn’t fought with my parents, ran to the forest and found the lock. Maybe then I wouldn’t be here, clinging to a tree – my sleek, black feathers being battered by pebbles from a slingshot, my life slipping away.

‘The Lock’ by Laura Mason

I looked at the lock in my hand, years of wear turned to rust. I ran a finger over its crumbling edges, as it flaked away to show the steel beneath. I held my hand out before my face. My once-smooth skin now wrinkled, and blemished. Just as the lock. Except I could not rub these away. Or start fresh. My past was gone, with no hope of return. Sighing I threw the lock into the field beyond.

‘Unhinged?’ by Kath J. Rennie

They’re coming for me. I run towards the bedroom’s sashed window. It is nailed down – no escape.

My screams are ignored as I am bound in a straitjacket; each pull on the ties has my ribs press against my lungs. I am silenced.

My husband looks on – his smirk, wide.

I glower at him as my wailing son clings to my skirt. His back is thrashed.

All thoughts of last night’s wrong doing diminish.

Revenge is sweet.

As sweet as the poisoned-laced sherry, he sips.

Thanks to all of the brilliant writers who have contributed to this month’s blog! What a fantastic and varied read.

Have you been inspired to have a go? Check out our new Monthly Writing Challenge now!