Sunday, 16 March 2014

March 8th Session & March Writing Task

In our session on Saturday 8th March, Cherry held a session about how to look for inspiration for writing, and how to develop ideas into the starting point for a piece of writing or poetry.

We explored how to use all 5 senses to observe what’s around us, including reading the news, eavesdropping (discreetly!) and keeping a diary to refer back to.

Everyone tried their hand at ‘freewriting’, which can be a bit daunting if you haven’t tried it! We then expanded ideas using the ‘clustering’ technique which uses word association to bring out images to put into your writing.

Another method we used to set up an idea was based on the old party game Mad Libs. We started with a sentence:

(Who) clutched the (What) and ran (How) through the (When) (Where).

Then we each picked out words randomly for each ‘missing’ section: Who, What, How, When and Where. The idea was to end up with a surreal sentence and use a short story to explain the ‘Why.’

You end up with some hilarious sentences this way!

 Santa Claus clutched the cat and ran angrily through the prehistoric pig farm.

Lionel Richie clutched the Bible and ran lazily through the Tudor steam room.

A small child clutched the stereo and ran in terror through the post-war holiday camp.

Hints & Tips

There are some key things we covered to help us in time when we feel uninspired. Try the following to get the creative juices flowing:

Ø      Write as often as possible – it will get you into the habit of producing drafts to look back over. Just remember not everything you write has to be ‘finished’ – even a freewrite can open up inspiration.

Ø      Go through the motions – doing exercises like the ones listed here can bring up surprising results. Even if you don’t feel it’s worth it at the time, you might get a spark of inspiration, either now or in the future if you read back through them.

Ø      Surf the net – there are lots of websites such as which provide prompts to give you inspiration.
Ø      Join a writing website – a great way to get feedback on your work, and some of them run contests to get you inspired.

Ø      Find competitions – even if you don’t want to enter, the themes might give you some ideas. Check out

Ø      Keep a writer’s notebook - having a notepad to hand means that you can scribble down things you see while out and about, write and re-write drafts, and experiment with your writing. 

Writing task

Our writing task this month is to practice using these techniques to create a poem or short story. There are two options:

Option 1: Use a word from your observations of what’s around you, or one of the following prompts to create a freewrite or a spider diagram (clustering), which you can expand into a poem of up to 20 lines,  or short story of up to 500 words.

Ø      Autumn
Ø      Tokyo
Ø      The weather
Ø      Chocolate
Ø      Coral reef

Option 2: Compile your own list of ‘Who-What-When-Where-How’ words, or use these. Pick some at random to populate this sentence, and use it as the opening for a short story of up to 500 words.

Speaking (How) in the (Where), (Who) gestured at the (When) (What).

Complete this for next month’s meeting on April 12th, where we’ll meet at 10:45 to go through these before our guest speaker, Jack Edwards, arrives. Have fun guys!   

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