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I am a writer and lecturer based in London. My first two novels are The Water’s Edge and The Haven Home for Delinquent Girls. Last year I self-published an ebook called How to Plan a Novel. Click here for more information. I’ve also recently written a nonfiction book called A Small Steps Guide to Goal Setting and Time Management, which came out on 25th July 2012 with Emerald. Visit the Small Steps Guide website here.

Frog Green

Never Mind the Text. Workshop at the Seda Conference, Bristol, 14 – 15 Nov 13. Resources from my part of the workshop.

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.

Resources. Here’s the HANDOUT from my part of the workshop. You might also like this article I wrote recently on creativity and creative writing teaching for TEXT.

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.

  • When you get home, close your eyes and think about your walk. Imagine all the detail you can. Picture the colours.
  • Go through all of your senses one by one and recall the experience.
  • Now think specifically about the different versions of the colour green you saw.
  • In a notebook make a list of the kinds of green you saw by pairing ‘green’ with a noun. For example ‘frog-green’.
  • Now play with the words on the list.

Leave the exercise for a few days, then come back to it and turn it into something new.

Reading and research materials

Different approaches to creativity and creative writing include, for example, the work of Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron. These include practical activities. You might also like The Five Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty. Rob Pope talks more about the theory of creativity. References on the handout.

For more on creativity and cognitive development see, for instance, Kagan’s theories of reflection and impulsivity (Kagan 1966), Guilford’s work on convergent and divergent thinking (Guilford 1970), Gardner’s multiple intelligences (Gardner 1983 and 2006) and Sternberg 2006. References can be found at the end of Tondeur 13.

I have a longer creativity and teaching bibliography which I can post up here if you would like it – let me know!

Nettles

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.

Missing London: shorts

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

A night out at Dyspla

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

A search for a creative pedagogy

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

How to make the best banana cake ever

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

Where to begin

I’m talking at the London Book Fair tomorrow, so here’s what’s going round my head.

Firstly, here are some resources for those thinking about POD or setting up a small press in a University Department. (Scroll down to the bottom of the list.)

One thing that gets me every time as a dyslexic writer is where to begin. As you can see, so far I’ve begun this blog three times. But I don’t just mean where to begin at the beginning. I mean where to begin each point. Meaning seems to spiral off in lots of different directions; there are so many different connections to make. This picture (that one of my Facebook friends shared) comes close to describing the feeling. The sense of control I need to reign it in and make it linear is sometimes overwhelmingly absent. Not necessarily in a bad way. So where to begin what I want to say? I’ve just finished organising a conference on practice-based research. (The website is here.) It was totally fascinating in so many different ways: the combination of drama, dance, animation and Continue reading

Number 73

Here’s a post I wrote on Wednesday evening on the number 73 bus: I realised I was going to miss it – not miss the bus, you almost never miss a 73 properly because there’s always another one coming – miss it in a piece of my heart way. And I also realised that it links a lot of my London experience together. It took me nearly three hours to get home. There are a couple of conclusions to draw from that. Either: if the people at Victoria say a tube train is not going anywhere anytime soon, it’s almost always quicker to wait for it to get going again than get the bus across Central London. OR: you get a new perspective on things if you take a different route home once in a while. Anyway. Here it is: Continue reading

Jacket potato beans and cheese please

JP CG

I love to order jacket potato beans and cheese from the JP stand in Covent Garden, next to the Transport Museum.  I recently took my wife out for the day for a Christmas present and took her for a potato. There’s something really romantic about it. Yes, we love Benugos and the Skylon and Canteen and the National Gallery Restaurant but the Covent Garden Jacket Potato stand is like going back in time. It reminds me of when I first moved to London in 1994. I used to sit on the steps of the market and eat it with a plastic fork and watch the tourists. So we did the same a couple of months ago until we got too cold and felt too old to carry on. A JP from the stand comes in at £3ish depending on topping. (Not the meal deal!) There also used to be a cheap jacket potato stand behind Westminster Abbey, nr the College Garden. Don’t know if it’s still there, but when I last visited (10 years ago) I bought one for £1.50.

In honour of my younger self, here’s my list of cheaper places to eat in London. Continue reading

The 11th February phenomenon

Things happen on everyday of the year, if you think about it. I mean, there are so many millions of things happening to so many millions of people, that there’s bound to be a list of events from everyday in history that got into newspapers, happened to someone famous, or were historically, politically, culturally or socially important somehow. Plus any kind of finite list, not just a list of important things that happened on a given day, excludes much more than it includes: and those exclusions will be both biased and subjective. Not necessarily in a bad way. I’m just saying. OK, so that’s a huge caveat to what I’m writing about here.

I’ve known about 11th February for a while. Continue reading