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Thread: Teaching Creative Writing

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    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
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    Teaching Creative Writing

    I will be teaching jr. high and high school level Creative Writing in the Fall. Any advice?
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

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    mind your back chasestalling's Avatar
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    start with poetry
    If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly.
    --Shakespeare

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    Something's gotta give PrinceMyshkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genoveva View Post
    I will be teaching jr. high and high school level Creative Writing in the Fall. Any advice?
    I taught it for a long while elsewhere, always wondering whether it was possible or even right to presume to teach anyone how to be "creative." But if I learned anything myself it was to help develop a spirit of camaraderie among my students. I discouraged both hostile, competitive responses from the students to each others' work and condescension, e.g. they were discouraged from saying That's nice or I like that but had to say what in particular they thought was "nice" or that they liked about it.

    I felt I was getting somewhere one day when one of the members of the workshop looked around the long table at which we sat and noting that there was full atendance, he said: "Oh, the whole family is here!"

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    No advice but I'm sure others qualified will chime in. I just wanted to let you know I've much esteem for those who enter into the Bettering-of-Minds Profession. Good Luck!
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  5. #5
    Your could try this. "How to Write With Style by Kurt Vonnegut"
    (it says from Kurt but it doesnr read like a Kurt, it wasnt bad advice anyway)
    There is a part where Kurt does not sugest painting a Picasso with words, i dont agree there. There is a place for all creativity.

    But I would say tell them to find their own style.

    more important, tell them to love what they are doing- being creative is all about loving it, self expession is a gift we give to ourselves.

    a fun excerise - describe a smell
    a little challenge- decribe a color
    more challenging- describe a tactile feeling, without using feel words

    perhaps to get the individuals involved have the answers un-named and pass them to a different student to guess the smell or color, and maybe who wrote it-
    Last edited by stormgirl_blue; 07-21-2007 at 09:21 AM. Reason: I forgot something.
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    Registered User Son of Mars's Avatar
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    I taught Creative Writing as a component of my practicum with what I have been told were impressive results. I would have otherwise had no way of knowing, as a student-teacher astounded by classroom realities, were it not for what I recognized as smiles on my students' faces when they realized, "Oh...I can write about truly anything!"

    First thing, on Day #1, ask students to take out a piece of paper and to write their entire life history. Begin: "My name is ___. I was born ___." From there, what details to include is entirely their decision so long as they end with why they are enrolled in a Creative Writing course. In 20 minutes, most of the class managed 2 pages with very interesting results.

    If on any day the class seems cranky or reluctant to work, a reliable back-up plan is to ask students to write their own obituaries. What do they hope will be written about them in honor of their passing? This might risk offending the sensibilities of particular districts, so use your best judgment. If asking students to think about death is frowned upon in your community, the assignment can be adapted to "What will be written about you in a newspaper article honoring your 100th birthday?". That, surely, is more life affirming.

    It's also wise to have maybe dozens of short stories ready to be read in class or as homework. I had great success with Flash Fiction and Sudden Fiction, as well as a little book entitled Brevity & Echo. Actually, I was surprised that students expressed frustration with works that seemed to them to be too short. They felt cheated. Of course, they groan just as loudly at longer pieces, so a variety will be needed throughout the term. Nabokov (who is not always a dirty bird) uses language with a lot of twists and turns. Carver is soberly straightforward. Chekhov, dense. Lawrence, suggestive. Bowles, menacing. They run the gamut.

    Really, what writing Creative Writing lessons requires is creativity (ahem). I found prompts such as "Write a short story about a fish that falls out of the sky" or "a wedding cake in the middle of the road." Or "a woman enters a room, hides gloves in a drawers, looks out a window" now you write the rest. Choose two professions (Doctor, Clown, Butcher, Prison Guard, etc.), one setting (Diner, subway, airport...), and one prop (rubber chicken, gold bar, tea cup), and write the (dramatic) scene.

    If these ideas are of any use, I've compiled a binder of plenty more. If not, my apologies, but it was only my practicum and this my first post.
    And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.

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    dreamer genoveva's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the wonderful ideas! I am currently compiling a syllabus for the class. I will surely use all the above suggestions including starting with poetry. Son of Mars, I appreciate your lengthy response and would love to hear more ideas that you've compiled in your binder! I am looking forward to the class and see this as an opportunity to focus more on my own creative writing as well.
    "I have so often dreamed of you that you become unreal." ~ Robert Desnos

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    Registered User SnowQueen189's Avatar
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    Ok, here's a new perspective. I'm a recent high school graduate who took Creative Writing during my senior year of high school. Please people, curb your enthusiasm! heeheehee

    Anyway, on the first day of class, my teacher said that in order to be a great writer, you first need to be a great reader. (It's a little cheesy, but oh-so true!) So, he set aside 1 day every week or 2 where everyone in the class just read the entire time and at the end said what the book was and gave a brief synopsis. Being the bookworm that I am, I really appreciated this! But, more than that, because I was in an environment with people who read different subjects than I did, I was turned on to books I would never have read otherwise. By doing this, I was able to leave my comfort zone of writing easier because of the broad(er) range that I was now reading!

    So, long story short, encourage reading!
    Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow ~ Mark Twain

    Imagination is more inportant than knowledge ~ Albert Einstein

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please ~ Mark Twain

    A good friend will always be willing to bail you out of jail at 3:30 in the morning, but a best friend will be the one sitting next to you saying, "Damn that was fun. Let's do it again!"

  9. #9
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    I feel that creative writing is born of creative thinking indeed, and creative thinking starts with reading great works and once one discovers for oneself some great works and be immersed therein, some works of art are bound to be birthed.

    The road to creativity is of course to dip onelself in a world of classes, but they are of course fountainheads of inspirations.

    I read mostly classics. At times I find even books of mythologies as repositories of ideas and inspirations.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

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    High schools offering creative fiction and non-fiction

    Hello!
    I'm currently writing a proposal to teach a creative writing course at the high school where I teach.

    I'm looking for the names of other high schools with creative writing classes to bolster my case.

    Just the name of the high school would be helpful, as would any information about the class--general content, means of assessment, how many credits, etc.

    Thanks for your help.
    Kate
    talesofamodernparent.com

  11. #11
    'sunflower' Tournesol's Avatar
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    SnowQueen is right....I teach creative writing as part of the high school English Language syllabus.

    I tell my students that they need to read A LOT in order to store images and ideas in their bank account [their brains]...I tell them that they need to put in adjectives etc for there to be material to write about, and they can only gain that from READING WIDELY>

    The next thing I would advise you to do, is to be creative yourself: set an example, in your dress, in your language, in your examples and teaching aids. Show them to be brave to be creative. Teenagers are sometimes afraid to step outside of what is considered 'cool'.

    Good Luck Genoveva!!!
    "My warm hands have made the paper limp,
    So that its feel reminds me of slept-in sheets: comfortable and safe"


    "All these things I say... I say them because I want you to know, I don't ever want to regret afterwards that I didn't say enough, I would rather say too much." ~ Samuel Selvon

  12. #12
    the storms silver lining
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    I don't know if anyone said this in an earlier post although the best way i think for teaching a creative writing class is make everyone purchase a composition notebook and everyday on the board when the students walk in make them write in the composition notebook about the topic on the board. do this from the first day of class to the last day of class it would be like a daily journal entry but this style of teaching is very effective in writing because the more you write and use your imagination the better students get at writing. I speak from experience here from being the student of a teacher who used this method in my creative writing class.

  13. #13
    Acting It Out Diane Havens's Avatar
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    Improv is a wonderful way to teach creative writing. Not only for actors, it helps students verbalize situations and work out conflicts.

    Picture prompts are also a great way to get students started. In NJ, it is the way students are evaluated on standardized tests, so we often used it to prepare them for it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by [D] View Post
    the best way i think for teaching a creative writing class is make everyone purchase a composition notebook and everyday on the board when the students walk in make them write in the composition notebook about the topic on the board.
    Quote Originally Posted by Son of Mars View Post
    If on any day the class seems cranky or reluctant to work, a reliable back-up plan is to ask students to write their own obituaries. What do they hope will be written about them in honor of their passing? This might risk offending the sensibilities of particular districts, so use your best judgment. If asking students to think about death is frowned upon in your community, the assignment can be adapted to "What will be written about you in a newspaper article honoring your 100th birthday?". That, surely, is more life affirming.

    Really, what writing Creative Writing lessons requires is creativity (ahem). I found prompts such as "Write a short story about a fish that falls out of the sky" or "a wedding cake in the middle of the road." Or "a woman enters a room, hides gloves in a drawers, looks out a window" now you write the rest. Choose two professions (Doctor, Clown, Butcher, Prison Guard, etc.), one setting (Diner, subway, airport...), and one prop (rubber chicken, gold bar, tea cup), and write the (dramatic) scene.
    Quote Originally Posted by stormgirl_blue View Post
    a fun excerise - describe a smell
    a little challenge- decribe a color
    more challenging- describe a tactile feeling, without using feel words
    I taught CW after my degree (in Creative Writing, no less!), from KS2 age right up to school leavers and college aged kids (16-18). It was pretty daunting at times but ultimately one of the most rewarding things I've done with my life to date and once I'm finished my MA I'm planning on starting up again. These ideas are AWESOME and I hope you don't mind if I pinch them... :o) One of the (younger) kids' favourite workshops in my last group was to write 'If I Were' poems, which involved them writing what colour, shape, smell, tactile feeling, etc, etc, etc they would be and reasons why. There were some AMAZING answers, things that you wouldn't expect from KS2 kids at all... If anyone tries this please let me know how it went. I hope it works as well for you as it did for me!!!

    EP

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    Start every class with 10-15 minutes of free writing to inspire creativity and get ideas flowing. Why? Because writers write. its simple.

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