Summer at Wild Words

The summer is a busy time in the world of the written word. Presenting my work at the Dartington ‘Ways With Words’ festival, I witnessed the releasing of 'wild words' by both speakers and participants as we immersed ourselves in the rich melting pot of the collective unconscious.

The festival was a celebration of the human ability to tell narratives. After all, storytelling is not just a nice addition to our lives, it is fundamental to our health and happiness. Maya Angelou had it right when she said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. But equally, there is no greater joy than in the act of liberating a story from within.

I was delighted to see how the participants on my outdoor workshop were (as we all are) naturally craftspeople of the highest order when it comes to words. That's not to say that writing is not a craft to be honed. It is. The Dartington talks and workshops helped us along that road. And then there was the live question and answer session I took part in on Twitter. Ever tried to condense a complex psychological writing-related argument into 140 characters, with questions firing from all sides? It wasn’t easy, I can tell you. But it was exhilarating.

Here’s a summary of that crazy hour, by the chair of the discussion Benjamin Scott.

There were a lot of questions around #wildwriting and whether it was for everyone. Although it’s different for every writer, Wild Writing is always about discovering an instinctual, creative space. Bridget reassured us that the concept of the ‘wild’ writer has something for almost every writer, pre-published or professional. As she tweeted, “There's a misconception that writing 'wild words' is scary, big and extreme. Writing 'wild words' is about finding connection, being in tune, that's safe for everyone.”

As one of this year's short course leaders at the Swanwick Writer’s Summer School, we couldn’t resist asking Bridget about what to expect from her sessions. She told us she will be revealing how to “bring power, passion and aliveness into your writing, through exercises in nature to re-find the instinctual writer.” A questioner asked whether anyone can become a ‘wild writer’, even if they like the indoors? Bridget revealed that qualities of the wild are found indoors as well as outdoors. As she said, the qualities “are found in ourselves, in the grain of wood in the dining room table, as well as outdoors. Start small. Set yourself up to succeed, not fail.”

Apprehension is also part of the wild writer’s journey for “when we see what we dislike or fear, we see what we're afraid to put on the page.” Being a wild writer is about utilising the whole of our body and mind, not just our minds. Animals in the wild have much to teach us (even writers!) about functioning well and connecting with the experience that comes via a gut instinct. It’s about changing the balance between the thinking mind and our instinctual being.

We finished off by asking Bridget what is the most important thing writers need to do? She answered that her message is to encourage writers to “trust their innate ability to tell great stories, then take control of the process.”

You’ll find the question and answer session on Twitter #askswanwick. Information about the summer school is at

Writing Prompt - Be more Twitter

Writing very short stories can help us to clarify the most important elements of our story. So, even if you’ve never been near Twitter, try this exercise.

If you’re a non-fiction writer:

  • How would you condense your philosophy of life, and/or your approach to creative writing, into 140 characters?

If you’re a fiction writer:

  • Try condensing a story or poem that you are writing into 140 characters. Try to retain the spirit and emotion of it, as well as the facts.

In both cases it’s useful to remember what the reader cares about most. They care about what the hero of the story is trying to achieve, what gets in the way, and whether they succeed or fail. And if you can’t get that into 140 characters, not to worry, just see how close you can get…