One of the many writing prompts I use in my How Pictures Heal workshops is to have participants write a three-sentence story sparked by a personal photo. A lot of wisdom, emotion and beauty can be expressed in three sentences:
- Fractured or whole, I am a bowl.
- My body contains who I am, how I have lived, my scars, my wrinkles and beauty marks.
- Fractured or whole, my spirit is a bowl containing the airy remarkable essence of my unique wholeness.
Here’s how one participant answered a three-sentence prompt from the question “What resistance did you overcome to get here to the workshop?”
- I am getting out of my comfort zone and exploring my love of words.
- I am overcoming the story I have said to myself––that writing is only for intelligent people and no one would be interested in what I have to say.
- I am feeling empowered and creative. I am exposing the ways I have been small for other people’s comfort.
Here’s something exciting I hear in all my photo-inspired creative writing workshops:
When I first saw my photo, I never imagined I would write what ended up on the page.
Writers I work with are experiencing the power of making imaginative leaps from their personal photos that allow them to express a meaningful story hidden beneath the surface of a photo.
One young man wrote from a photo of himself and his brother as a child posing in the arms of their mother for the camera. As soon as he began writing from the photo, he realized he’d never thought about who had taken the photo. Then, he realized it was the last family photo his father had taken before leaving the family. His poem germinated from with this awakening. He said:
I was able to use what I learned in class to not only write something I’m proud of, but to process and communicate emotional difficulties I hadn’t been able to find words for in years.
My workshops are inspired by the words of Jane Hirshfield in her essay, “Poetry, Permeability and Healing”:
Among the fracturings of the psyche, powerlessness and invisibility are not minimal things. But a person who can ask words to do things words have not done before is not powerless. To make phrases that increase what is possible to think and feel is both exhilaration and liberation. To expand reality is to counter despair, depression, and impotence.
Personal photos and expressive writing are a dynamic combination for TLA artists and writers. Your pictures hold the stories only you can write. Writing is an act of creation that puts your spirit, your mind, your mood, in transit as your pen takes you where you have been and where you have never been before.
Another writer in my How Pictures Heal workshop asked me a great question about the “magic” of how this creative writing and healing process works:
It seems to me that something quite magic happens in this work in terms of moving the mind into a positive space. What do you think happens in the process of writing about photos and memory, Kelly, that affords this shift?
Well, let’s agree that it is mysterious. But I think it has to do with engaging our imagination, suspending our disbelief, being willing to see what’s real and remembered–– the facts of the photo and the specifics of memory––and then leap or drop into what we know that we don’t know we know. As the iconic depth psychologist, journal writer and Intensive Journal founder, Ira Progroff said:
When our attention is focused inwardly at the depth of our inner being, in the context of the wholeness of our life, resources for a profound knowledge of life become accessible to us.
Writing from our personal photos provides a quickening of spirit, an entrance into our imagination, a transit into what brings meaning, purpose, beauty, and healing into our lives. Writing from our photos is an act of transforming feelings of powerlessness into power, invisibility into visibility.
My photo-inspired writing workshops are:
- Safe places
- Non-judgmental experiences
- Creative spaces for exploration self-expression
- All levels of writing are welcome
- All genres of writing are supported
How we will work together:
Our online webinar experience is writing-generative. We’ll meet, personally, live online in a weekly 90-minute Zoom videoconference. Additionally, each week will consist of a “Lesson” sent via e-mail for you to download that includes content designed to spark personal reflection on healing aspects of your personal photos as well as a transformative writing prompt.
Each week, you will receive insightful feedback on your writing from Kelly, and others in the group. We’ll also meet ON ZOOM in the following combinations to give those who need day versus night options. ALL ZOOM SESSIONS WILL BE RECORDED
TUES April 18, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET
WED April 26, 7-8:30 p.m. ET
TUES May 3, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET
TUES May 9, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET
WED May 17, 7-8:30 p.m. ET
TUES May 23, 7-8:30 p.m. ET
I hope you’ll consider moving toward healing from your personal photos in your creative writing practice with me. You can register here.
ABOUT KELLY DUMAR
Kelly DuMar, M.Ed. is a poet, playwright, and engaging workshop leader who generates enlivening writing experiences for new and experienced writers. Her photo-inspired creative writing method elicits profound personal awakenings, deepens connection with others, and fosters beautifully crafted writing in poetry and prose. Kelly’s fourth poetry collection, “jinx and heavenly calling,” was published in March 2023 by Lily Poetry Review Books. Kelly is also author of Before You Forget—The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly’s award-winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by dramatic publishers. Kelly is a certified psychodramatist, former psychotherapist, and Fellow in the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. She teaches online for TLAN and the International Women’s Writing Guild, where she leads the Annual Summer Play Lab and more. Kelly also hosts the monthly Journal of Expressive Writing Open Mic with feature. Kelly inspires readers of #NewThisDay – her daily photo-inspired blog – with her mindful reflections on a writing life. You can learn more about Kelly, at www.kellydumar.com.