Sally Festing’s Workshop, 4 July 2016It’s my experience, that writers almost always improve as a result’ says Peter Sansom of writing games. In a previous Saltmarsh workshop Meg Peacock travelled down from Durham to dissect poems. In another, Peter Hughes, poet and founder of Oystercatcher Press dwelt chiefly on foraging unusual word and language combinations. We started with the traditional workshop special – speed- or fastwriting.Tapping the unconscious is what we were after, and given the first line of a poem, most of us did indeed produce results that surprised. ‘Things’ surface - that’s what it’s all about; finding an authentic voice. Some of them were shared.This exercise was followed with an analysis of Adam Thorpe’s ’Sighting’ from his collection, Voluntry. The poem that provided our speedwriting line.‘Surprise’ was again, the element we sought from making sentences with everyday nouns – things lying about in the room, and verbs from a different idiom. The example I read was Thorpe’s poem, ‘Disaster’, a mixture of managerial speech and reportage on a polluting pipeline in a developing country. The poem makes you weep.The sun shone fitfully; the garden’s present preponderance of pink and mauves shook in the wind. After the break, a dozen heads scarcely moved from their pages, as each participant turned a longer directed exercise into his or her own making.‘Think of a placeWhat can you smell?What can you hear?From the quiet energy generated among the group, it was evident the creative process was working. It is a paradox that when no one expects us to write well, it can actually be easier to say what needs to be said than tinkering away on your own.