Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Stone Writing

I said stone, not stoned! Here is a stimulus exercise I love to teach. A good one for early in the start of a new term because it's a bit mystifying, but always gets results. What's more, it makes use of those mementos from your holidays if, like me, you can't resist picking up stones or shells when out in nature. 

Stone Writing
So, out walking or in a gem shop or natural history museum, collect a small boxful of semi-precious stones in their wondrous variety of colours, textures and patterns. Add stripey, sparkly or textured stones picked up at the seashore and rocky streams. Or run a variation on this, using seashells.

Find a good container, say of rattan or woven grasses for an elemental feel, or of velvet or lacquer, associating with valuable treasures. Proffer the container, letting students choose one of nature’s objects, then contemplate, bubble (my word for brainstorming on paper) and write for 10 minutes -- whatever comes to mind.

This usually brings excellent freewheeling results. Some spontaneously go the non-fiction way of science or nature, others go into memoir mode, others into fiction. Another time you can prompt them if you wish, for instance:

  • Where has this been?

  • What does your stone remind you of?

  • Who found, or who treasures this natural item, and why?

  • If it could talk (or if it had a smell, or if it was once a person)
Stone Writing is in Section II, Stimulus: Sparking the Writer, Exercise 19, in Creative Writing: the Matrix paperback. In Creative Writing: the Quick Matrix e-book it's also #19. If you and your students are really really beginners exercises 5 - 9 are the sparking essentials. 

The whole academic year of planning lies ahead. Enjoy! And remember there are teaching ideas and exercises in the archived posts here -- scroll the Labels list, a treasure trove. Note, too, the final section of the Matrix book (both e and print) is called Running the Course. Combines with Section I: Nurture -- A Safe Place in which to Grow to get you up and, well, running. And writing.