Yesterday in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) one person sat down to write with me. Having met him before I knew that he likes (i) writing poetry and (ii) using random stimuli as inspiration for poems. I selected some cards with shapes on them as inspiration – circle, square, rectangle, lightning flash, star, etc. He chose 3 shapes as the initial inspiration and wrote a mystical poem that included flashes of lightning on hills. Now and then he asked me for another shape card or a random word (I came up with green and silver) as further inspiration. The shape I chose was the rectangle and it inspired me to write about a letterbox (see below for the start of some Freewriting I did).
The second piece of inspiration I gave him was picture postcards of places. I showed him the postcards one-by-one at random until he had enough to inspire his second poem. This is not the approach I would normally take but it was the right approach for him. Adapt and be flexible, that’s my motto.
The Letterbox (Freewriting that I intend to develop into a short story):
“My letterbox punctuates my life at the moment. I am confined to my house and the rattle of the letterbox most mornings determines how the rest of my day will go. No rattle and I will sit around reading and every now and then I limp to the kitchen on my good leg and crutches to make coffee. Getting the coffee back to the lounge without spilling half is too much of a challenge so I drink it in the kitchen.”
If you want to try using shapes as writing inspiration you could start this way:
Cut 4 pieces of paper; draw a circle, a square, a triangle, and a long rectangle on the 4 pieces; and turn them face down. Now, turn one shape over at a time and write about what the shape means for you or your life at the moment, what does it represent for you? Even basic shapes can have meaning when you write about them in this way.