Monday, 26 April 2010

Postcard exercises

I've just given the how-to's for four different categories of postcards for writing stimulus exercises -- on my website. I change the Exercise extract and Tutor Support extract at the start of each term, so if you are a regular to reading this blog, do go to for your freebie teaching help this week.

If you are new to this blog, arrived here from the website -- well, the website only changes termly, and the extracts are not archived on the site. So that's all you'll get today. BUT if you are looking for exercise ideas just select stimulus from the labels of this blog... and you'll get a choice of ten. And more under other labels. Because this blog IS an archive. Of course you could always buy the book.

But here I am live! (oh yes, new pic of me on the site too). And surviving in the brinkmanship of adult education, hurrah! The class did NOT make its minimum but my line mangagement asked me if I could cover the Hero's Journey course material in 4 weeks instead of 5. So of course I said yes. And their management agreed.

This was all on the morning of the first session. Rapid go-through of my material -- fortunately all organised in my binder and well sunk into my bones because I have taught this 5-week version four times.

Interesting and probably even useful to juggle and refit things -- which were the very very best exercises? Which did students enjoy most? Which capture the salient points of the Hero's Journey archetype for creative writing?

First class went well (and all agreed to stick with the course as 4 weeks for the same fee as they paid for 5; alternative was to close the course). Of course first class is always a wee bit stiff and shy, so I'm really looking forward to second session this week. I am probably moving up the Shadow -- it is a great character deepener -- and the very lively plotting exercise (small group work) which will be a good darkness antidote.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Seriously writing

Welcome to the start of the third term of the year. If you are teaching a long course you may be flagging by now -- how to keep the students inspired and entertained, how to keep up your energy?

There's nothing like a goal, so this is the time to announce a group or class anthology -- you can make one or several (part) sessions of the topic. I talk about this in my Matrix book, but in brief: you can bring in samples of other class anthologies (you have saved them over the years, I hope; or those produced by, say, your Arvon/Ty Newydd etc week).

Debate/discuss cover, size, page-count, length limitations, deadlines, production -- oh, yes, and content. Should it have a theme? All be new work, a new assignment or inspiration? Or 'best of' work done during the year? This is excellent edtorial experience for students -- a little taste of the publishing business which sheds light on the process and how it relates to their own writing. What I mean is, you can point out how and why writing gets rejected: often NOT because it is not good, but because it doesn't fit the publisher's needs or parameters.

Other deadlines to shoot for are writing competitions -- I have blogged this before, check the 'labels' to find the blogs. June is a time of a number of important comp deadlines.

Meanwhile brinkmanship continues. At the time of writing, my class due to start in two days has not got the enrolment it needs... but then people are still waking up (or stuck due to volcano ash), so maybe by mid-day tomorrow, the college's cut-off hour, another 5 will join.

Otherwise I will have time for my own serious writing on The Gleaner, the resstless life of Ephraim Epstein. I refer you, regarding seriously writing, to my colleague, the novelist, writing coach and all 'round creative energizer Jacqui Lofthouse, who has an online support service and a free, encouraging weekly e-newsletter -- look her up, and tell her Susan sent you!