Guided Imagery Narrative

Guided imagery is a powerful way to focus a writer’s attention on a topic. It helps the writer “see” details of a scene or event and then use these details to develop and enhance the writing.

Instructions:

Starter topics must be common enough to ensure all writers have an experience to recall.  For example: “An Embarrassing Moment”, “An Accident,” “A Surprise,” “A Time When I Learned Something.” The group can choose which of these to explore.

Participants first list as may events as they can  remember which would fit the general topic. For example, if “An Embarrassing Moment” is chosen, list embarrassing things that have happened to you, the writer.

Each person should choose one topic to visualize and circle it.

A member of the group then acts as facilitator, using the script below to “guide” group members as they visualize the experience they’ve chosen.

Script:

  • “Now, please put down your pencils (or tablets) and close your eyes. I am going to take you back to that time just before the incident or event occurred. You can make a mental picture right now in your mind’s eye.  The clock is stopped at one minute before the event happened.”
  • “Take a good long look around. Where are you? What do you see?”
  • “Turn and look to your right.  What is there?”
  • “Look to your left.  What do you see?”
  • “Be aware of other senses.  What can you hear close up and in the distance?”
  • “What smells, aromas are you aware of?”
  • “Is there someone else with you? Who? What are they doing? How do you feel about these people?”
  • “How do you feel? Remember your heartbeat, the feeling in your arms and legs, the sensations in the pit of your stomach, the thoughts tumbling in your head.”
  • “Now the event is about to happen. The clock is running.  The event begins . . . experience it again slowly, like seeing a film in slow motion.”  (Allow about 30 seconds of quiet time.)
  • “Now as the film slowly reaches its end, you are ready to move back to this space, this time bringing your memories with you.”
  • “Now you can open your eyes. Pick up your pencil and quickly make a list of what you have just seen and felt: words, phrases, images, colors, feelings, and memories—just a list.”

Participants now use the list to draft a narrative—or at least get it started if time is tight.

For sharing drafts, people can work in twos or threes. Volunteers can share in the larger group.  However, all sharing should be voluntary.

Debriefing (Optional): Thinking about the experience of writing and sharing is valuable.  Here are some possible questions:

  • What did people experience at each stage of this work?
  • How did it feel to be a writer in this situation?
  • What response did you want from your group members? What did you get?
  • What helped or impeded this writing?
  • What additional help is needed?