Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Latest news from Lapidus: The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation

It was Lapidus: The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation's 2014 AGM on 29th November and the room was alive with energy and positivity from Lapidus members passionate about writing and words for wellbeing.

It's been a challenging year for Lapidus and as Chair I'm pleased to report the organisation is now solvent and stabilised. 

Member numbers continue to grow but as all funds derive from membership we need to look for other sources of funding too. This is one of the challenges for the coming year. Another is to ensure a place for Lapidus and writing & words for wellbeing on the National Wellbeing Agenda. Over the next few months the Lapidus Board will be looking at ways to promote Lapidus as the 'go to' organisation for writing and words for wellbeing.

Earlier in November I attended the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) Conference in Bristol. This was an inspiring  event with workshops and seminars from 9am to 9pm. 

Roger McGough and Deborah Moggach were both interesting and hilarious. I learned about notebook poems, lines as inspiration, celebrating mother tongues, poetry improvisation, wild writing and creative approaches to change and renewal. 

Lapidus is a partner organisation with NAWE and holds an annual joint Writing Retreat at Ty Newydd, North Wales. Next year it will take place from Monday, April 6th - Saturday April 11th, 2015. I'm happy to be co-hosting with NAWE's Liz Cashdan. There will also be a guest workshop from Jill Teague entitled, Treading Softly - Writing in Nature.  

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Writing Workshops at the Mint House Book Shop

Autumn is a time of change and opportunity... 
We are excited to be holding FOUR WRITING WORKSHOPS 
at The Mint House Book Shop 
94 High Street, Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, BN6 9PX

writing from the season, senses and the self

Thursdays 16th, 23rd, 30th Oct and 6 Nov 
7 - 8.30pm 
with poet Charles Antony

To book a place email Christine at: or contact Charles on: 01293 519688 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Here are my new Write 2Be Me postcard flyers. They highlight the different ways Write 2Be Me can be used in school and the results. Just look at those happy sunflower faces! There's also a quote from a student and teacher there too.

The artwork is by Jim Browne of Doodling Jim. He's an excellent illustrator and very versatile as you'll see by the range of work on his website at

Thanks to Colourfast Brighton for a good deal on printing!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Come On In, The Water's Lovely

The other week I dipped my toes into Brighton radio - on the Paul Stones InBrighton on Mondays show for Radio Reverb, Brighton's local station. I felt a bit nervous as I approached the basement entrance of Reverb HQ, off the New Steine, that chilly March Monday. 

Paul opened the door and led the way along a dark corridor to the studio.
Sue Bartlett from Rottingdean Writers group was already there in front of a large microphone. Paul put his headphones on and I sat down next to Sue. We exchanged greetings and chatted politely. I looked through the notes on my lap. I'd made a list of things I wanted to mention - my workshops, the benefits of writing, the link between writing, health and wellbeing, Lapidus - the writing for wellbeing organisation. Just then the door opened and Pete Sanders, from Coastway Hospital Radio arrived and the seductively inviting, intro music was playing. It was 5 O' clock and we were on air! 

Like many things, it wasn't half as gruelling as I thought it would be. Thanks to Paul and Pete for their gentle interviewing technique. And to Sue with her excellent cache of stories. I've just got round to listening to it and after my initial embarrassment realised I'd mentioned most of the things on my list. I didn't realise how many times I'd said Ummm - that was a surprise!

Despite this, the lovely Pete invited us to Coastway the following Sunday. This was a wonderful experience with Pete and Ruth, who host a regular Sunday morning programme for people in hospital, complete with quizzes! 

I even got to read a poem. It's National Poetry Writing Month  and I was inspired by a friend who told me there is a planet made of water. Apparently he'd heard about it on the radio.

Here's the Reverb show and the poem too:  

Thought Bubbles

They've found a planet
made of water,
like a great big bubble
suspended in sky.
I wonder what it would be like 
to land on?
Or bump into - 

like a bouncy castle
or those balls you squish for stress?
Perhaps you'd bounce right off it 
into space,
or fall into it
and it would fold around you,
like a lovely big hug.   

Christine Hollywood, April 2014


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Research, Writing and Wellbeing

In 1986 Dr James Pennebaker conducted research into expressive writing and health. He asked two groups of uni students to write for 15 minutes a day on four consecutive days. One group were asked to write about superficial things - what they were wearing, the weather etc. The other group were asked to write their deepest thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event they'd experienced (preferably a secret they hadn't revealed before). 

Pennebaker looked at the students' visits to the health centre in the months before and after and found that the group who wrote about a traumatic event went to the doctor half as many times as the students who wrote about superficial things. 

Over the last thirty years research has consistently shown health and wellbeing benefits not only from expressive writing but other types of writing including free writing, creative writing, short stories, song writing, unsent letters and memoirs.  

Currently, Lapidus members Victoria Field and Carol Ross are involved in a study which aims to establish the clinical and cost effectiveness of therapeutic writing for people with long term health conditions. 

James Pennebaker's top tips for expressive writing
  • Ask yourself if you need to write. If you find yourself thinking about something too much, dreaming about it or obsessing about it in some way, writing could be beneficial.
  • Promise yourself you'll write for a minimum of 15 minutes a day for three or four days.
  • Don't worry about spelling.
  • Write for yourself, not for an audience: this is not a letter to someone, this is for you.
  • Plan on destroying what you've written, though whether or not you actually do doesn't matter.


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Free Writing and Wendi Deng

I think Wendi Deng was probably free writing when she wrote how much Tony Blair's physique delighted her. Her note ending "and what else and what else and what else..." illustrates a technique that keeps the pen flowing across the page by writing the same thing over again until something else comes up.

For free writing forget about punctuation, spelling and sense. Just let the pen flow. Disengage your mind too. Try not to think what it is you're writing about.

Sometimes after I've been free writing I can barely read back what I've written as the words flow into one long line across the page. You don't need to read it back anyway. It's the process that's useful for freeing up words.

Afterwards you can throw your free-writing away, put it under your pillow or save it to look at for another day. Although, if you do this you might want to make sure no-one else reads it (Wendi take note!)

If you do read it back what you see may surprise you and you may have no memory of writing it. Free writing comes from the unconscious and can lead to insights and material for further writing. Peter Elbow advocates free writing for at least 15 minutes a day to find your voice and to get rid of the inner editor.

At the recent London Lapidus workshops Helen Beale, who specialises in somatic writing, suggested we free write for 5 minutes and then underline all the words and phrases that stood out to us. She then asked us to free write for another 5 minutes incorporating as many of these as we could. We repeated the process a third time. Helen says the first 5 minutes writing is often what she calls 'froth', the next more intense writing and finally the last 5 minutes is about expansion and release.

To finish the process, Helen suggested we make a poem or short piece of writing using the words and phrases we chose from the final free write.