December 7, 2014

Nora Carpon's writing prompt suggestion

Nora Capron, a graduate student in the summer 2012 session of Teaching and Assessing Writing with the Six-Traits posted the following.

With regard to this week's readings, I really liked Donald Murray’s questions to help uncover possible topics on page 172:

What surprised me lately? What’s bugging me? What is changing? What did I expect to happen that didn’t? Why did something make me so mad? What do I keep remembering? What have I learned?

These would be fabulous to use in my Creative Writing class! Sometimes it’s tough for kids to “get the wheels greased” with their basic ideas. I agree with the point Dennis made in his lecture when he said people write best when they write what they know, and I think Murray’s prompts would serve as a very comfortable starting point to get the pens moving. I plan to use these prompts next year in the first few classes when we are generating ideas for our writing.

One idea I have to share is a free writing exercise I recently did as a student in a creative writing course I am taking this summer. The professor passed out a bunch of books to the class. Once each student had a book on his/her desk, the professor instructed us to open our book to a random page, close our eyes, point to a random line of text, read the line, write it at the top of our page and use this as our writing prompt. The sentence at the top of my page was “How embarrassing for him, some stoner overhearing.” Needless to say, this got the creative juices flowing very quickly!

I went from feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of generating a new idea to writing something original that flowed really easily. All I needed was a little inspiration, and it came from a source that I had all around me all the time—books! This exercise was a lot of fun and very useful. I will definitely use this exercise in my own Creative Writing class this year. Has anyone done a similar activity with their students? How would you describe this experience? What variations of this activity could also be done?

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