For the final unit of my first year writing classes, the writing invitations for the writing marathon intended to inspire both with my first year writing students and the Just Write virtual writing group focused on a simple idea “What If.” Our What If work was inspired by Marvel’s What If animated series and the butterfly effect combined with the explorations offered by the #WalkMyWorld Project. A five-week journey for the writers in my care would culminate in a multi-genre exploration of their personal values and how those values were developed (a primary focus of our American literacy themed class).
The Butterfly Effect
We began our exploration by considering the ideas evoked by Marvel’s theme: space, time, reality…endless possibility…changeable. We then investigated the Butterfly Effect…how tiny changes in a complex system can eventually generate huge changes in our lives, our country, and our world. We then wrote about events that impacted the formation of our family and/or our birth; important events that connected us to key people; and/or important decisions that may or may not have seemed consequential at the time.
Experiences, Dreams, and Scars
Our next prompt was inspired by the work and life of Spoken Word Poet Shane Koyczan. In addition, we explored Ancient Sunlight by Amy King, The Cabbage Butterfly by Minnie Bruce Pratt, and I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth by Fatimah Asghar. We wrote about the experiences, dreams, and scars that have made us who we are and shaped who we want to become.
We wrapped up our freewriting with these questions:
- What artifacts represent your life and experience?
- What marks have you left or want to leave upon the world?
Then we focused on creating artifacts (human-made objects of significance) to share with our class community or via social media as part of the #WalkMyWorld community. I suggested three possible options that could vary according to each writer’s creative, intellectual, emotional, and physical capacity (because pandemic, life, and first year college are all challenging at times): #6Words story poster, montage (fragments combined to make a new thing), or curated collection. Just like my students, you are invited to write and create as much as you like based on your current capacity. The important thing is to reflect, write, and create something that tells your story even if the only audience is yourself.