Nine Dark Angels and a Highland Retreat

Reflections and learning
30th October 2013

Dark Angels and a Highland retreat? What’s that all about? Has she been dabbling in black magic?

Actually no, Dark Angels is the name of the Creative Writing for Business course I went on last week. Moniack Mhor was the venue – a writing retreat near Beauly, in the Scottish Highlands. As a burgeoning business writer and keen blogger I wanted to bring more energy to my writing.

It’s an experience I would recommend for anyone wanting to engage with people through writing. I was astounded at how my language was dominated by bureaucratic words. In my head I was communicating in a human language, but somewhere between my brain and the tips of my fingers my thoughts were converted back into management speak. It was like stretching an elastic band……then letting go!

As with all learning, it takes time. We have to pin the elastic band in the new stretch position for a while, but even then it may not relinquish its ‘ping-back-ability’! Keeping language real may need constant attention. Words like ‘co-create’, ‘deliverable’ and ‘outcome focused’ rolled off my pen! Clearly there’s a place for jargon but there’s also a time for putting these words to one side, and telling the story from the heart. Responding to complaints about the care received in the NHS is one example that springs to mind.

Facilitators, John Simmons and Stuart Delves were wonderfully adept at holding up a mirror and gently pushing us to find real purpose and meaning in our business writing. They took us through a medley of individual and group activities to reclaim our creativity and let humanity show through in the written word. These are the qualities of storytelling that school and the workplace have squeezed out of us over the years.

As John Simmons points out in his Book – Dark Angels 

‘we make decisions on the basis of emotions, and we use facts and evidence to support the decisions our emotions are pointing us towards’.

In other words, ‘The heart decides. The mind confirms’.

As the Buddhist proverb goes ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’. Last week I had the good fortune to be in the company of eight wonderful teachers all from different business backgrounds. So maybe there was a touch of alchemy involved after all!

With thanks to facilitators, John and Stuart and my fellow Dark Angels – Andy, Laura Mandy, Pip, Rhea and Scott.

I intend to keep the elastic band at full stretch, but it will be you, dear reader, who will be the real judge of progress. Let me know how I’m doing….

Other posts of interest: