Skip to main content
Date: 01/01/2014
  • Practices
  • Honoring Our Pain
  • Emerging Facilitators
  • Facilitators

Spontaneous Writing

from chapter 7 of Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown; second edition, published 2014. Please acknowledge the source when you use any of these practices.


Time: 20-30 minutes


Good at any point, this practice works especially well following one of the rituals of mourning. It encourages people to articulate what emerged for them from telling the truth about their world.  



Choose a word, a theme or phrase – perhaps something that emerged in a previous process – and post it. Have everyone in the group relax as they read it, and have them then take a pen or pencil and write – spilling out, pouring out whatever comes to mind. Suggest they release themselves from the judge and censor in their mind, and playfully or prayerfully to let come whatever comes. There is no requirement for spelling, grammar, or even “making sense” and no requirement to read it to others. Suggest that people continue moving their pen or pencil even when nothing comes, just repeating the last word or drawing circles or whatever.

With this dark and painful stuff, our task is to…”  

This half-sentence from the poster artist Sister Corita has been especially powerful after sharing of our pain for the world. It lets the depths of the psyche speak its own knowing. It lets each person, still feeling the support of the group, move alone now to catch a fresh glimpse of his or her distinctive truth. After ten or fifteen minutes of writing, people are almost invariably eager to share. Let them do this in twos or threes.  


Contributor/Author: Joanna Macy & Molly Brown