Friday, 27 February 2009

Desperately seeking nellie & moira & bryan

Three kind blog-readers posted comments back in January, and I have only now seen them! I thought I'd taken care of my change to new pc, new server, new email address for my blog, but seems it didn't penetrate all the layers.

So I never got the alert and didn't look back to see the comments. Very sorry!! Bryan said re 11 December he's a Nanowrimo veteran and he likes a teacher sharing the journey...

But especially nellie and moira, in January, commented on Writing Students Demand Homework (26 Nov 2008 blog) and asked for the Homework sheet choices and Stuckness prompts I offered.

But now I reveal my total pooterishness -- I cannot figure out how to reach them. So I hope you are looking at this dear bloggees (is that a word?). For them, and for anyone else, the best way to reach me, so that I can reach back to you, is to go direct to my Matrix book Paxton Publishing website, from where there are direct email routes to me. Also, I suppose, by asking you to go to this trouble it shows that you really really do want to get in touch. Or else you can instruct me on blogspot procedurals! Humble apologies.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sweetie Jar Exercise

I promised creativity after last week's tutor admin topic, so take a word, any word. Or take about a hundred words. Here are a few from the big list in Creative Writing: the Matrix (Exercise 20: Word Box):
  • additives
  • ballerinas
  • cable
  • diplomas
  • eagle
  • ... zip

Tutor's preparation part is to type, print out and cut up into one-word slips of paper. Fold once or twice and put them in a great big sweetie jar or kitchen canister. Looks especially intriguing if you print out on sheets of different coloured paper.

The fun part -- each student pulls one from the jar, then has to write for 10-15 minutes. You can leave it as freewriting or direct further as to fiction (story, character, dialogue...), feature, whatever.

My favourite solution to the moanie ones who hate the word or feel stuck -- MUST stay with your drawn slip, but instead write:

  • why you hate it/feel stuck, what bothers you
  • about the opposite
  • about anything it makes you think of, any tangent

Try to get those word slips re-deposited in the jar and this makes an ever re-cyclable exercise, that bit of stimulus in your tutor bag of tricks to use whenever needed.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

What is the meaning of lifelong learning?

The above question headed a Guardian article on September 9th 2008 and I'm very sorry I didn't tell you about it at the time. If you want to keep teaching in adult education you need to keep at least a bit au fait with the (drastic) things happening in that sector. Spending, budgets et cetera... not very creative but it does affect us teachers of creativity.

That article announced the formation of the Campaigning Alliance for Lifelong Learning (Call), a banding together of bodies (stakeholders, if you use that kind of language) to lobby and pressure politicians re lifelong learning. It could be that U3A (University of the 3rd Age) is what/who we all come to rely on for providing what's called informal adult educaton.

If you are that way inclined, for an update see

For a more recent Guardian article on further education for older adults, see

These nifty shortcuts to news-right-up-our-alley come to me via the Instititute for Learning They send a quarterly e-newsletter with news digest links; IfL is also 'our' body for official registration as a teacher in further education.

Frankly (my dear) politicking is not my thing, so if you want even more directly writers-who-teach-creatively news and conferences etc don't forget the National Association for Writers in Education You can even list yourself on offer to go into schools etc. NAWE addresses creative writing teachers going into schools, universities and community (which includes further education).

End of commercial. I see my private writing coachee tomorrow. Next week I will be more creative, less administrative.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Senstive Flowers & Other Pitfalls

Sensitive flowers & Other Pitfalls, that was my alternative pitch for the Winchester Writers Conference session giving support to teachers of creative writing. Along with Pitching Your Creative Writing Course.

What do I mean by Sensitive Flowers? For the main thing, students whom you must be tuned to, those you quickly discern (or I do, anyway) who have had a bumpy mental or emotional ride. This may show in the subject matter of their writing, or in the quality of their writing or attitude towards writing. Unless you are trained in counselling and running a writing-as-therapy class, be gentle and tolerant, and don't go too deep in helping or criticising.

Others in the flower bed include the blocked student, the fearful gadfly, the introverts... what they are and what to do? To be continued...

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Pitching Your Creative Writing Course?

What do creative writing tutors want? I have just finagled a chance at a slot at the Winchester Writers Conference in July 2009 in support of my Matrix book. Here's your chance to tell me what you'd like to spend a 2 hour session on. The market is lots and lots of wannabe and currently published writers -- if you don't know the Conference, it is a festival of loads of workshops, plus chances to meet agents and name authors. So... some of them might want to teach, and some already are teaching.

I'm thinking of: Pitching Your Creative Writing Course. Does that appeal as a title? Now must drum up 25 word blurb.

New topic: here's a lead if you have a degree and want to do one-to-one teaching. This topclass outfit has need for tutors in all subjects, all over the UK. The students are mainly secondary school age; some degree level too. Have a look

Got to dash now -- off to improve my knowledge of Chiswick House where I am a volunteer guide. Hello, Palladio.