Reflective Writing 101

We’re no busier than anyone else, but somehow I lost a whole month. It’s the longest I’ve gone without posting since I started blogging in 2009. It’s not that there was nothing going on or that there was absolutely no time. There were wonderful things going on — some of which I shared on Instagram. But my writing time was spent on other projects.

Ship Rock formation in Wisconsin.

No, not graffiti. That’s Ship Rock, which I stopped to photograph on my way home from the Willow Gathering in Decorah, Iowa.

I write because it helps me figure out what’s important. I teach students in fiber workshops to use simple reflective writing exercises, too. Figuring out what’s important to you is at least as important as the slew of techniques and possibilities I present in class.

River Rescue training photo by Renae Worden

The things I’ve needed to figure out for myself lately have been more community-related than fiber-related. You may know that I’ve been a member of the Wolf River Fire Department’s search and rescue team since it formed in 1990. We had a particularly frustrating incident in June, which I wrote about here for the Daily Yonder. And I wrote for the Yonder about rural school funding issues because there’s so much talk and so little understanding.

Neither of those articles will change the world. Our school district just got the word on how much the next round of state aid will be cut, and it’s huge. Our public safety communications problems haven’t been solved. But nothing ever changes for the better when no one talks about an issue.

Natural dye scarves by Donna Kallner.

Change is scary for many people, and definitely for many fiber artists. It’s easy to go from project to project without reflecting on why this or where next. Trolling through Pinterest is not the same as reflecting on possibilities. So I have a small challenge for you. Some of you have done this with me in class, and maybe forgotten that it works outside class as well.

Reflective Writing 101
In this exercise, you bounce back and forth between doodling and writing.

  • Trace your hand on a sheet of paper.
  • Doodle in the thumb area. Don’t worry about how “good” your doodling is.
  • Give yourself a minute, more or less, to respond to one of the prompts below. Don’t self-edit what you write — just scratch out the first thoughts that come to mind.
  • Repeat doodling in another area, then writing, until you’ve filled in the whole hand.

Writing Prompts

  • What did you enjoy most about making the last piece you did? Why?
  • What did you enjoy least? Why?
  • What have you been doing because it’s safe? Why?
  • What have you been putting off? Why?
  • How do you measure success in your fiber art?
  • How would you tell someone else to measure success in their work?
  • What do you need to do next?
  • Start a list of what it would take to begin.
  • Circle one thing on that list — a task you can complete or at least begin in less than one hour.
  • Make an appointment to complete that task within the next two weeks. Put it on your calendar.

Hand doodle from reflective writing exercise.

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin