University of Sussex Special Collections and Mass Observation Archive Blog

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Happiness: creative writing



The creative writing workshop on Tuesday 5th November, facilitated by Evlynn Sharp, was enjoyable, insightful and uplifting.

The workshop took place in the Latest Music Bar, Brighton; a light and airy venue with comfortable wooden chairs, high ceilings and large windows. Good coffee, herbal tea and biscuits were provided.

Before the workshop started, we introduced ourselves to each other. Although we only spent 4 hours together, the intimacy of the workshop meant that we got to know each other quite well.

Evlynn is a poet whose passion lies in working for the community. She encouraged us to “pick up the pen and find the power of our own voice”. As well as being a talented writer, she was supportive of our work and always found at least one positive thing to say about each piece.

We wrote about happiness, prompted by questions such as:

“If you were looking for happiness, where would you find it?”

“What would you give someone to make them happy?”

“If you could relive an event, what would it be?”

We were introduced to a technique called free writing, where we wrote continuously until we were asked to stop, without worrying about things like spelling or grammar. At first I found this quite difficult because I’m a perfectionist, but free writing pulled down this barrier. I transferred my thoughts onto the page as they happened.

After each piece we wrote, we read out our work to the rest of the group. Because I’m self-critical, I don’t normally like to share my work with others unless I’ve had a chance to re-read and improve it. But it didn’t feel daunting in this workshop because there was a supportive atmosphere, not a judgmental one. Everyone had a distinctive voice and it was intriguing to hear the different responses.

It was heartening that the session brought strangers together from different backgrounds and walks of life to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences.

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