Monday, 10 September 2018


'I'm not happy when I'm writing, but I'm more unhappy when I'm not.'
Who said that? The answer is Fannie Hurst, but the point is: Quote-match, a great way to get your class mixing and mingling. And groaning and laughing. And raising questions and discussions about writing -- this early in the year that's good fodder for your class planning.

Type, cut out and paste on index cards, or simply print out and cut in strips, quotes from writers on writing. Sources? The above is from W.O.W. Writers on Writing, selected and complied by Jon Winokur. Or go to Goodreads quotes on writing -- if you are not a member, join! Goodreads is a good thing.

You distribute the quotes (how-to tips below) and the task for your class is to Find the person who has the same quote you've been given. Task ideas: the pair agree or disagree with the quote (three reasons why), reinvent the quote, what did the speaker's spouse say, brainstorm a story... 

General Guidelines for All Pairing Exercises

  • Keep the pair devices in two separate identical sets to give out on opposite sides of the room, doing a quick count to check your numbers, so your distribution will get people moving and mixing as they search for their match.
  • Be sure to explain the task before they rise -- you'll never be able to shout over the noise once the happy chatter begins.
  • Stroll about, dropping the match-cards randomly at people's places. As they find each other, write task-point reminders on the board. Some students do not fully heed or remember verbal instructions.
  • Watch the clock. Allow about 10 minutes for the paired task. Give a countdown at two minutes, then one minute, reminding pairs to cover the task points.
  • What if your numbers are uneven? Have a third match-quote up your sleeve. Designate one pair as a threesome, the 'odd' one finding his or her way to the matching quote. This is also a solution for a late-arriving student. The trio just have to make do with the time allotted.
  • When time's up the pairs report to the group at large. Or you may have them write for 5-10 minutes as an individual exercise. I have students return to their original seats for the whole-group work, so partners may be across the room, not adjacent -- it's less routine, sharpens attention.
Variations on matching: famous quotes, proverbs or sayings. If your group is widely read and confident you could leave out the attribution and have pairs guess the author of the quote, but generally I feel it's best to keep simply to the quote itself as the focus.

Quote-match is in Section II, Stimulus: Sparking the Writer, Exercise 43, in Creative Writing: the Matrix paperback. In Creative Writing: the Quick Matrix ebook it's Exercise 37.
Listen out to the discussion and you'll get the measure of your writers' woes, worries and joys to help you plan and nurture your class.

And here's one to wish you well for the term: 'The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.' -- Agatha Christie.