July 18, 2012
July 18, 2012
January 5, 2015
I have created several Mind Maps down the years that illustrate some aspect of Creative Writing teaching. I used some of them in the recent workshop I lead at the Festival of Dyslexic Culture, for instance. I have attempted to turn a few of them into videos. You can see the initial results on YouTube.
I want to use this space to share some of my Mind Maps with you. Here they are as PDFs. You will have to use the zoom feature to navigate most of them, especially the first one.
This Mind Map became an article called ‘Versions of Creative Writing Teaching’. Writing in Education, No. 62, Spring 2014.
At the Festival of Dyslexic Culture I asked workshop participants to choose between the following three writing workshops. By a narrow majority, they voted for freewriting! Here are the Mind Maps I used: Continue Reading →
January 4, 2015
About ten years ago, I began to look at my own creative practice and to work out what it is that I do when I’m writing “creatively”. This wasn’t just a fun diversion. I believe that thinking creatively and being creative are fundamental to our society and that now, more than ever, we need creative people to solve problems and to provide inspiration. If there is a way to learn how to do it better, it seemed to me that I could apply a skill I had learnt and developed as a teacher – something I came to recognise as breaking things down into small parts or steps – and use that skill to understand the creative process. Far from being innate, incomprehensible or something only a few people possess, I think everyone can become more creative. It comes with practice, with habit. What’s more, if people who have already developed a creative habit were to look at what they do and summarise it more often, that would provide the opportunity for a diverse and divergent understanding of what creativity means in practice.
November 16, 2014
Some of the writing I did in response to workshop exercises at the NAWE Conference this weekend.
From a workshop on lines with Liz Cashdan inspired by the work of Tim Ingold:
Wordstorm different kinds of lines: Violin strings, swimming lanes, roads, lay lines, beams, threads, spiders’ webs, urban and rural walks, taking a line for a walk, flaneur, wandering, trails, barriers. Then write for 15 mins about lines:
I am interested in urban lines, traffic signs, yellow lines, white hashes in the road at intersections, parking regulations. How we’ve marked our own environment, how we’ve painted the places we travel, the lines in our buildings and public places, how we’ve left ourselves markers, bus lanes, where red buses squeal like animals calling to each other. My internal city is laid out in bus routes, timetables, tube maps, pavements, zebra crossings. Travelling to the hospital I’m signposted by arrows, side roads, sirens, then inside where the air smells like alcohol hand wash, there lines on the floor to take me to the ward, hyperacute bay, Continue Reading →
November 15, 2014
Creativity is sometimes viewed as elusive, God-given or innate and superfluous. In my research and my teaching, I’ve been thinking about the alternative: that creativity is definable, learnable and important. I’d go further than that: creativity is not only an important skill for an individual; it is a tool for shaping the future and bringing about social change. More than ever we have the need for creative thinkers and doers.
So here’s the question I’ve been pondering for a while: when we teach creative writing, what do we mean by the word ‘creative’ as it Continue Reading →
June 6, 2014
A long time ago in North London, in what seems like another life, I was thin, I had a pair of stripy yellow and red jeans and I was naive about a whole heap of things. Didn’t know how to use a computer, hadn’t really clicked that my parents met in Hackney, had only been out for a couple of years. I talked about naivety in passing in my last post: I said it’s a good thing, as long as you’re aware of it. Not sure I was aware of it in the days I’m talking about, but I did go on a steep learning curve. I was in my early 20s, and I had graduated the previous year; for a few months I ran the Creative Writing Youth Group at Centerprise in Dalston. Continue Reading →
June 5, 2014
Recently a Buzzfeed article called 51 Things You Simply Must Do in Brighton was circulating on Facebook and Twitter. The trouble is, it doesn’t mention Hove: well, twice, in passing it mentions Brighton and Hove as if it’s the same place. Believe me, before I moved down here I knew as much about Hove as almost anyone else who’s lived in London for twenty years. That is, I knew nothing about it. For me, the whole tenor of the ’51 Things’ article is that Brighton is a fun place to visit, as if no-one ever lives here, but – also because I live down this way now – the even weirder thing about the ’51 Things’ article is that it doesn’t mention the countryside. I knew I’d be close, but I had no idea I would be 10 minutes away from the South Downs. I guess popular culture is so keen to pigeonhole Brighton (and Hove in with it) as Continue Reading →
November 13, 2013
Never Mind the Text. Workshop at the Seda Conference, Bristol, 14 – 15 Nov 13. Here are the resources from my part of the workshop.
1. Maps. Here is a Mind Map animation on YouTube summing up the panel presentation we’re giving at the SEDA Conference on 15th November 13 and here is a Mind Map of my part of the presentation as a PDF for download: Creative Writing Toolkit MindMap and as a video on YouTube.
3. Writing exercise. Below I’ve pasted a writing exercise I wrote called FROG-GREEN from ‘Small Steps to Creative Thinking’. Creative Teaching & Learning Magazine, 3.2, Summer 2012:
First, go for a walk. Notice the different versions of the colour green you see along the way.
I talk a fair bit about Close Observation, with students, and when I do presentations on creativity and writing. Last night at the Dyspla Festival I mentioned how I watched a patch of nettles for 45 minutes in Devon in 1993 and how it changed my life. Here’s the article I wrote about the experience and published in the Arvon Foundation newsletter in 2005. Here’s a close observation exercise to try.
1. The importance of tea. Yesterday I tried to get a cup of tea near Hove station at 4 in the afternoon. I was turned away. London: one of the only places in the world where you can get a decent cup of tea at any hour of the day or night.
2. Crowded. Has Victoria station always been so crowded? Either it a) got more crowded since I left London b) got more crowded because I left London c) was always elbow to elbow with commuters, tourists, language students, people trying to sell you something. I think it’s c. Scary that I didn’t notice for nearly 20 years.
3. The Japanese Kitchen. On hearing I was going to speak at the Camden People’s Continue Reading →
I’ve just got back to Hove after a night out at Dyspla at the Camden People’s Theatre. Five of us spoke about whether dyslexia is a help or a hindrance and the audience voted with balloons, white for help, red for hindrance. (Btw, here’s the Mind Map of my presentation that I totally failed to send to the organisers in time. You can see an animated one on YouTube here). I was probably rambling a lot, but at one point I suggested that dyslexics might be more visual in their thinking (there have been studies that back up this idea. See for instance Everatt, J et al (1999) An Eye for the Unusual: Creative Thinking in Dyslexics in Dyslexia 5: 28–46). I also suggested that dyslexics tend to think globally, that is they see the whole. I have a feeling that these two skills are interlinked, that we see in pictures and can see the whole picture. one audience member commented that everyone thinks in pictures, but some people think that they think Continue Reading →