Writing Activity!

New year, new challenge!

Here’s Nettle to dance you into 2023

Writing Activity
 I ran many writing workshops and classes for a number of years, as well as teaching creative writing at the University of Wales, Newport. There is something uniquely inspiring about working with other writers and tackling writing exercises and challenges together. I always marvelled at how the same prompt or task could produce so many different responses. A testament to the limitless creativity of the human imagination!

For those of you considering signing up for a course or attending classes I would heartily recommend giving it a go. The scariest bit is not the actual writing, but the sharing of your work, often with people you do not know well. Try not to be put off by this. Remember, however confident they may seem, everyone is vulnerable when reading out their freshly formed writing, or having it critiqued. In my experience, even in a new group there quickly develops a spirit of supportive enthusiasm and encouragement. I know people who have made friends for life after meeting in creative writing classes. There is a strong bond formed though a combination of that fizzing creativity and that willingness to be vulnerable in order to make the most of it.

To the task!

Without giving it too much thought, choose one of the following:

a) a penthouse flat  b) a remote farmhouse  c) a Scottish castle d) a gypsy caravan d) a Spanish villa

Now choose one of these:

1) a nerdy teenager with a fear of deep water 2) an empty nester with a fear of heights 3) a retired doctor with a terror of snakes 4) a grandmother who hates small spaces 5) a young woman with a broken leg

Now spend ten minutes making a mind map (some people call them spider grams) linking your chosen character to your chosen setting. Just have fun with adding things that give you a sense of place, time, and the character. For example, your mind map (or list, if you prefer) could include the smell of sheep, the sound of the wind, the noise of distant city traffic, the feel of sand under bare feet, the textures of curtains, the taste of paella or wine. 

Now choose one of the following:

a) a diary b) a bracelet c) a knife d) a dog e) a photograph f) a case full of money.

Your task is to write about your character, in the setting you have chosen and expanded, and work your selected object into the story. Don’t worry about a beginning, middle or end. Don’t give a thought to where it’s going. Don’t concern yourself with length or genre or title. Once you have your selections made, dive in, write freely, have fun! 

Do comment with any questions you might have. And feel free to post snippets of your writing! The point here is not to produce a complete story, rather to just have fun and follow where your imagination leads you.

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Mary Ann Rojas
Mary Ann Rojas
25 days ago

I tried to sign up but “the recipient has too many requests.” You’re a popular gal Paula😃

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Mary Ann Rojas
25 days ago

What?! I am so sorry I will look into that.

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Mary Ann Rojas
22 days ago

Please can you email or Facebook message me your email address so the subscriptions people can sort out the snag?

Laura Lewon
Laura Lewon
24 days ago

Here’s the first few paragraphs:

I nearly topple out of the old VW van, the exhaust fumes, stinging the fir-laced mid August sun. “Damned dog.” He managed to squeeze out the window during a low, slow turn up the mountain. We had an argument that morning about a quick jaunt to the lake to chase the birds. My dog does that; talk to me, as do most animals. ‘Industry hazard’ is what I call it. No matter, my weird little tribe gets me and why we call ourselves the Hippie Gypsies. I fit in, in a way my family never understood. I guess they’d rather I stay home and bake cookies. My kids are grown, their kids are grown, and I have done my duty as a grounded parent. Now it’s my turn. Nah, I rather prefer deeper, kinder conversations with four-legged species, my patchouli scented scarves, and small town after small town after small town. My service is to the animals, which is a good thing since they seek me out to vent and be heard in a way no one else can. Squinting in the sun, listening for the dog, all I can hear is the low buzz of the forest insects weaving and dancing around us, to check us out as the newcomers. “ Hang tight, guys. I’ll be right back,” I sigh to the group before heading into shadows of the trees to find my missing friend. I finally spot him, head down, teeth bared, and growling low. What he didn’t find, were the birds.

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Laura Lewon
23 days ago

Ooh, this is terrific! Great sense of place and right into the strong character. (Also, I still have ‘patchouli scented scarves’!), I particularly like the way you draw us in to a cosy, close up, atmospheric scene and then twist it with a sense of menace right in the last sentences. Well done!

Laura Lewon
Laura Lewon
Reply to  Paula
23 days ago

Means a lot coming from you! ✨

Mary Ann Rojas
Mary Ann Rojas
Reply to  Laura Lewon
15 days ago

Well dang Laura, I want to read the rest. Your VW van got me because I’ve always wanted one and will get one. Someday. I drove a ’72 purple beetle for ten years and it was the best car I ever had. Rock on with that story and I want to read more.

Kristy
Kristy
20 days ago

I took a writing class in high school and again in college but that was a very long time ago. What put me off from exploring more into it is my vocabulary isn’t very vast so I tend to repeat myself a lot. It doesn’t make for great storytelling. I am fine knowing I could never be a famous beloved author of all NYC bestseller-listed novels. I prefer to read what I love such as books like you write 🙂

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Kristy
11 days ago

Enjoyment is key, whether reading or writing. x

Mary Ann Rojas
Mary Ann Rojas
15 days ago

Here’s a start! This activity is really cool Paula.

Who Knew?

           Randel’s Corner, Louisiana, never saw one like her and likely never would again. Just two miles south of New Orleans, Randel’s Corner would sprint past you if you drove too fast. Better yet, walking to town in thigh high boots gets you to the finest scenery ever…if swampy greens and the aroma of rotten eggs are your idea of solace.
           Turns out, smelly swampy greens don’t attract tourist’s because gift shops are nonexistent and the only souvenirs that leave RC are welts from the mosquitos who never take a vacation.
           Dr. Tafia McNally, the only doctor willing and able to care for Randel’s hurt, sick and dying citizens for the past thirty years since 1990 is now gone. Certainly not forgotten though.
           Not dead mind you, retired. We at the Corner figured she wanted rest from caring too much for us and fearing too much, the snakes. Why in heck she chose to move into our snake infested berg we’ll never know. Lord knows she incessantly waded through craggy, muddy and brackish water rippling with those buggers and was never bitten. All of RC has been bitten at least twice. From newborn to a hundred, we’ve all felt the tooth on ankle, arm, and butt.
           She could have worked anywhere what with all her uppity education and experience. We heard she’d traveled the world to teach on the latest advances in brain surgery. Handy with the knife that one. Used it often on us and yes of course, the snakes. As a favor to the Corner, she’d capture, skin, and slice and dice our local staple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Never ever did she eat one morsel.

Mary Ann Rojas
Mary Ann Rojas
Reply to  Mary Ann Rojas
15 days ago

Already found a punctuation error…sheesh. I’m always learning.

Paula
Paula
Reply to  Mary Ann Rojas
11 days ago

I love the voice here, Mary Ann! The whole piece is highly atmospheric and feels authentic. Well done indeed. Those snakes! You could make a whole book out of this, particularly with such a strong sense of place. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment comes across strongly too. xx

Mary Ann Rojas
Mary Ann Rojas
Reply to  Paula
11 days ago

Thank you kindly Paula! It’s really fun coming up with names of people and places in spur-of-the-moment stories like this. Tafia does eventually purchase a “remote farmhouse” in Billings, Montana and her adventures are just beginning 😁