Here’s a little invitation to come to sit at my table and join my weekly writing group for a session – without leaving your computer. I thought I might share what I do in the two hours I run the group and perhaps you’ll want to join in with us all…. you may be on a train, you may be at home, or a cafe. You’re welcome wherever, whenever!
We have been looking at form this term. Last week, we explored Tanka with mixed enthusiasm. This week, I wanted to look at how we write in form naturally, with our own language and unique experience and ability to get our message across.
So the first exercise was to write a list of all the forms of writing each person uses without necessarily thinking about on a day to day basis. This could include thank you letters, health and safety reports, evaluations, tweets, advertising copy etc etc.
Then each writer picked up one of the photographs and postcards I collect and had scattered round the table – obviously you can’t do that, so I suggest you google ‘surreal images’ and pick one. Don’t try to think too hard, the best results come when you think ‘oh my god, I can’t make this work. I really can’t, this is hopeless…’ until, click, something slips into place.
Because…. you are now going to use one of your written forms and link it to the image. We had some wonderful surprising results – an advert to win an afternoon of someone’s happy childhood, a thank you letter expressing what someone really thinks, a health and safety report for a cow with wings etc etc etc.
Set your timer for eight minutes and go….
Then we read out – with these first draft readings we just listen and admire, rather than comment. It’s always one of my favourite parts.
Following this we read and discussed this piece on actively getting 100 rejections by Deb Wain in Tulpa Magazine, and looked at what it meant – not just shifting the emphasis from product to process but also discipline. It’s part of the writing circle. Too often we can get stuck in freewriting, coming up with the ideas but not finishing them off which uses a different part of the writing brain.
Then we had coffee, filled up our drinks, caught up with other writers for five minutes. It’s not all hard work!
Coming back to the table, I handed out a sheet with these five current (as I’m writing this) submission calls. The writers had to pick one and come up with something then and there. Before they started writing, I discussed how some of my best work has come from commissions – because I often had to work hard to find out how I connected with the subject, where my heart was, why this often random subject could become mine.
So here you go…. good luck! If you need another way into these subjects, I offered that they might go back to the original list of writing forms they wrote at the beginning and use one of them to approach their chosen prompts…
Do let me know if you follow any of these, perhaps send a link if you get one published, and I hope you find this mini writing session helpful!
PICK ONE OF THESE FIVE WRITING PROMPTS TO WORK WITH….
- Write inspired by this picture… anything, anyhow… (visualverse.org)
- Write a piece NO MORE than 300 words using as many of these seven words as you can… (http://newflashfiction.com/)
On December 15th, 2017, we learned through reliable news sources such as the Washington Post that the Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the Center for Disease Control from using seven words in their official documents: The words are as follows: “evidence-based”, “science-based” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” and “fetus.” This isn’t dystopian fiction. This is real.
- Write a non-fiction piece on something beautiful in your every day. It should be 250 words or less. (http://www.riverteethjournal.com/)
Glimpses, glimmers, meditations, moments, reflections, refractions, interrupted shadows, river shimmers, darkened mirrors, keyholes, kaleidoscopes, earring hoops, slabs of cracked granite, cracks where the light gets in. Beautiful things.
- Write a poem based on the theme of women’s suffrage – 100 years anniversary… (paperswans.co.uk)
- Use ‘contagion’ as your theme…. (http://abridgedonline.com/)
We are intimate with the end of things. Infection comes from close contact. Out of control, it makes us crazy. Suspicion plants its roots deep and spores. Trust nobody. This is the threat. It is enormous but made of tiny things that are everywhere. We speak for it with our words that aren’t ours. Nothing is ours. The threat is panic. What sneaks in will eat us up whole. It is getting too close, it is sticky on our fingertips. Are you afraid of other people? How they touch you, love you, need you, change you? How they look like you and can rearrange you? We come together in touch. This is contagion. Don’t be touched if you want to survive. And you want to survive. With plague comes suspicion, comes isolation, comes hysteria, comes total destruction.