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How creative writing fixed my staff meeting slump

Would you rather travel to the ocean floor or outer space? Which type of weather best represents your personality? What fictional character would you most like to go on vacation with?

These might not seem like typical opening questions of a weekly staff meeting, but for my colleagues and I, it’s habit. Every Friday when we gather to reflect on the past week and prep for the one ahead, we begin with a few minutes of creative writing.

If you’re a working professional anywhere in the nonprofit sector, chances are your work involves some type of writing. Maybe you identify as a writer already. Maybe you have a regular journaling practice or are an expert at creatively captioning Instagram posts. Maybe you haven’t taken a writing class since freshman year of college. Whatever the case, starting an otherwise ordinary staff meeting with a short, sweet writing prompt is a low-key, low-pressure way to transition into meeting time and bond with colleagues over your silly or poignant answers.

Creative writing has a myriad of benefits, for professional writers and amateurs alike. Most relevant to the workplace, a creative writing practice fosters empathy and communication skills, boosts your imagination, and encourages clear self-expression.

Here’s how you can infuse a creative writing habit into your weekly meetings:

  1. Assign a different staff member with bringing a writing prompt to the meeting each week.
  2. Read the prompt out loud to the group, or display it in an easy-to-see location.
  3. Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes. Try to write the whole time! It’s longer than it seems.
  4. Invite each staff member to share a few lines from their writing—or the whole thing, if you’re feeling brave.
  5. You did it! Soak in the good feelings and creative vibes that you’ve built together.

In my time as a youthworker, I’ve learned the importance of a “brain break”—a few minutes of creative thinking that helps students transition from one thing to the next. And as a working adult, I’ve realized that we all could benefit from a brain break once in a while.

For my colleagues and I, as staff at a youth writing center, it’s also a matter of practicing what we preach. It brings us closer to our mission and helps us enter the mindset of the young people we serve. All in all, our weekly creative writing habit only takes a few minutes—an easy price for the way it’s changed our meetings for the better.

Not sure where to start? Here are five ideas to try out with your colleagues at your next meeting:

  • If you were an item on a coffee shop menu, what would you be and why?
  • Do a Mad-Lib or fill-in-the-blank story together.
  • Write a letter to an object that is meaningful to you.
  • What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?
  • Write a haiku about something small that you are grateful for.

 

 


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