July 18, 2012
July 18, 2012
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 →
April 23, 2013
A journal article based on the material given during this workshop is available here.
I’m giving a workshop at Roehampton’s tenth annual Learning and Teaching Conference today. I’m going to be talking about what I call my search for a creative pedagogy, which is an answer to the question (or at least asks more questions!) about how one can teach creativity, specifically in relation to creative writing teaching. Here are some of the workshop activities we might do. My search involves research I have been doing since 2008, which has had two strands. Continue Reading →
April 17, 2013
If you’re looking for a link to POD resources you need Where to Begin.
You know today we were supposed to be kind to each other as a kind of protest against the idea that there is no society. I’m not sure if I would necessarily argue that ‘society’ is synonymous with ‘kindness’ but here’s my act of kindness anyway: how to make the best banana cake ever. I’ll digress first. At the book fair today, the people promoting the ‘books are my bag‘ campaign asked us to write our favourite book and favourite bookshop on a post-it note. It might have been better if they had asked for an appropriate book, given that almost everyone at the London Book Fair has one thing in common (and possibly only one thing!): they are into books in a big way and are likely to have several favourites. I think this book, which I haven’t read yet, might have been an appropriate book for today: Continue Reading →