A Year of Wordspill: 7 Surprising Lessons From The Notebook

Apr 24, 2021 | General | 0 comments

Wordspill Writers is nearly here – a private reflective writing community so we can write together all year round. It marks a year since Wordspill first started to take shape. A year since I first thought “What if…”. A year that’s seen over 100 people spill their own words one way or another.

Lots of words. Lots of play. Lots of reflection. Lots of learning. So here’s a look back over a year of Wordspill: 7 lessons from the notebook.

It’s about permission

There are so many reasons not to write. You have nothing to write about. You’re too busy. It’s a waste of time. We can talk ourselves out of a writing habit in hundreds of different ways. But, in truth, writing can happen anywhere. At any time. You need a pen and paper and the decision to do it. And that’s it. And once you give yourself permission to write, you notice myriad other things you can give yourself permission for too.

You do not have to be good

The irony of people not writing because they’re not good enough! Bah! So much to dig into here. Firstly, how do you get better or more comfortable at something if you don’t do it? Writing won’t flow by itself…

And secondly, most importantly, Wordspill writing, reflective writing, does not need to be good or for you to be good. There is no pressure to spell well, to behave well, to be polite or to consider anyone else in the notebook. How rare is that? Really, though? How many activities in your life can you think of which apply zero pressure to do or be a certain way? Simply by showing up on the page you have done it. You cannot fail. The ultimate liberation.

You can’t write it wrong

Sometimes, during Wordspill groups or workshops, someone will say they don’t ‘get’ the prompt, or they’ve done it wrong. Nope.

I mean, yes, I might sometimes need to be clearer in my explaining (like the time I was telling people haikus were poems of 5/7/5 syllables then used the example: ‘O snail/Climb Mount Fuji/But slowly, slowly’. Classic haiku from one of the masters – not 5/7/5 in translation though. Doh).

But there is no wrong way to jump off a prompt. You might be tasked with writing about the colour green and keep coming back to your broken (red) coffee mug. That is fine. That is right. You can and should go with it.

You don’t have to like it…

…You just have to do it. I think it was mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn who first said this about meditation practice. Same goes for the writing prompts. Your notebook doesn’t really care whether or not you feel excited, bored or angry in response to a prompt. All of it is grist to the mill. All of it is valid and interesting. Even if it doesn’t feel interesting or relevant to you right away. There’s plenty to dig into and learn from.

That said, I’m no bootcamp sargeant and neither is Wordspill. You are your own leader in this. In Wordspill groups I tell people to tune into whether they are avoiding something for their own wellbeing. If so, that’s just right. You’ll know. Treat yourself with kindness and do something else. But don’t avoid writing because you don’t feel like it, or because you don’t think the prompt has much to offer you. It’s the regular practice of exploring all over everywhere that allows the spill.

Together is better

I love to run, and yet the thought of running in a group makes me shudder. I thought the same would be true for writing. I think it would be if there was pressure to share my newly hatched baby words. But there isn’t. One of the rules of Wordspill is that there’s never pressure to share.

I’ve found there is something magical about responding to a prompt around the same time as other people. Knowing others are writing on the same theme as you that week. There’s a gentle accountability that keeps you on track.

And there’s the fun and learning that comes from witnessing how other people respond. ‘How did they possibly get there from that prompt?’ or ‘I hated doing this one, where did you get with it?’ or ‘I’d never have seen it like that – that’s interesting.’ All is welcome.

And having a community to head to when you want to share your writing, when you’ve written something that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in its truthfulness, that is precious indeed. A place where you can go to be celebrated and to celebrate yourself.

The writing’s just the start

Wordspill is partly about spilling words onto the page, freefall. Letting the writing happen. It’s also about what happens after that. From noticing what we write – why we went that way with our writing, not the other way. Why we chose to write about a kitchen. How we felt as we did it, and afterwards. Writing helps us notice.

And, then, writing helps us act. The spill isn’t just onto the page, it’s into life. Conjuring up a vision of us watering our kitchen garden on the page has us buying a packet of salad seeds from the supermarket counter. Grumbling we have no time to ourselves results in a six week block booking of Sunday evening yoga. Loosening up our ideas in our notebook results in a clear, compelling presentation at work. The spill is not just down. It’s out too.

We hold it lightly

Wordspill is a chance to play with words. To imagine what the tooth fairy might really say on her nightly rounds.

It’s a therapeutic practice too. It has so many therapeutic qualities: it’s a place where we can simply be ourselves, with no pressure. It’s an invitation to explore what we care about and go in pursuit of things that are important. It’s a place to meet with others and know you are enough; you will be welcomed as you are. The dark as well as the merry. But it’s not therapy. I’m not a therapist.

We hold the act of Wordspilling with a light curiosity to see where it might lead us. We notice. We play. We support each other. We go lightly, even when we go deep.

Wordspill Writers is happening soon

gaylejohnsonwriter-coffee-forgetmenots - wordspill
Coffee, pen, notebook, nature – ahhhh blisssss

And there we have it. Seven lessons from my year of Wordspilling.

I can’t wait to start up Wordspill Writers so we can do this all year round. If you think weekly prompts, monthly workshops and supportive community might be just what you need to spill words and truth down and out, I’d love you to join us.

Doors will open 1 May 2021 for a week. Everyone who joins then signs up for a monthly membership of £21/month. A price they keep for as long as they stay. I’m kicking it off with a maximum of 25 people, because I want to get this right.

You can join the waiting room here. You’ll get a free guide to the 3Ps of Wordspill (useful whether you join the group or not) and be first to hear when Wordspill Writers is live on 1 May. I hope to see you in there!

Got any questions about any of it, or any other writing adventures? Always happy to chat. You can send me a message here.


Share if you love this writing and article

Gayle Johnson

Gayle Johnson


Gayle is a freelance content writer, writing mentor and facilitator. She is the creator of ‘Wordspill’ and loves helping people use words to connect with themselves and others. Find out how you can work with Gayle and her services


Related Posts

4 ways ‘you can’t write it wrong’ with reflective writing

4 ways ‘you can’t write it wrong’ with reflective writing

One of the tenets of reflective writing, the sort of writing we do in Wordspill, is that you can't write it wrong. It's a simple phrase to remember, and one I repeat often when facilitating groups. But what does it really mean? In this blog we'll break it down.  ...

Want to write sparky, helpful content? Do more with less.

Want to write sparky, helpful content? Do more with less.

I work with values-driven businesses. People who do what they do because they want to help others. Because they want to make people's lives better. So, of course, they need to ensure their words make an impact. They need to write helpful content. And it needs to...

Pin It on Pinterest