Category Archives: Writing Exercises

Four More Weeks of “Creative Writing Extravaganza” at Bliss!

f89a6047e669ec1ac91be6381d9ec13e

As Seen in Natural Awakenings Magazine!

Creative Writing Extravaganza
Tuesdays, August 16 – October 4, 2016, 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Bliss Spiritual Co-op
1163 Pleasant Oaks Drive, off Chuck Dawley Blvd
Mount Pleasant, SC

No registration required! Attend all eight weeks or drop in when you can!

Join us as we explore how the raw material of our life experiences informs our artistic expression and how we can develop them into poems, stories, flash memoir, and more! Each class will focus on a specific sample or style of writing from which students will generate their own work by responding to prompts, engaging in invention activities, and emulating the sample writing itself. Time will also be set aside during each class for students to read aloud from any new work they wish to share (always optional). All levels are welcome.

We will explore:

  • Imagination in prose and poetry
  • The music of the sentence
  • Forms of poetry (and why they matter)
  • Elements of narrative
  • The Lyric Essay
  • Flash fiction
  • Fun with metaphor, simile, and personification
  • Flash creative non-fiction
  • The role of the writer’s journal
  • How drawing helps writing
  • Deepening writing through awareness and meditation
  • Deepening awareness and meditation though writing
  • Establishing a regular writing practice
  • Working through fear of failure
  • Working through fear of success
  • The joy of revision
  • Revising life stories for empowerment
  • Deepening self-awareness and healing through writing
  • Deepening craft through self-awareness

Bring your journal, favorite writing instrument, and inner child!

New: “Writing from the Heart” Begins This Week in Summerville

IMG_0586[1]Writing from the Heart
2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the Month
Beginning September 14, 2016
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Serenity Center
820 Central Avenue
Summerville, SC
No Registration Required, Drop-ins Welcome
$12.00 per session

Writing from the Heart

Whether retraining thought patterns or drafting a lyric poem, journal-writing helps normalize the stuff of life. It is where we make sense of life events and give voice to complex and nuanced emotions. It is where we have permission to rant, wax nostalgic for the good old days, dream about the future, or write crappy sentences. Most of all, it is a space where we can deepen our connections to the world in which we find ourselves.

Bring your journal, and your heart, to this bi-weekly workshop to learn techniques that will deepen your relationship with your journal and yourself to discover fresh new ways to approach your writing time. Each session will begin with a brief discussion of a meaningful piece of writing, such as an essay, poem, or excerpt from a memoir, which will be followed by a meditation or invention activity. Participants are then invited to write a response in their journals. There will be at least fifteen minutes dedicated to writing time and participants may share if moved to do so.

Topics include:

  • How to bring a sense of playfulness to our writing (and life)
  • Deepening our inner resources
  • Creativity through self-understanding
  • Overcoming writing blocks
  • Discovering how we limit ourselves (and stop doing so)
  • Changing neuropathways through writing

About the facilitator:
tutor photoA passionate teacher who is dedicated to (and fascinated with) the writing process, Lisa Hase-Jackson has been teaching and coaching writers since 2004 when she was granted a fellowship in the Washburn Writing Fellowship program at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. Since then she has facilitated writing circles, workshops, and seminars in such places as Albuquerque, NM, Anyang, South Korea, Kansas City, MO, Toronto, Canada, Allentown, PA, and Charleston, SC. She holds an MA in English with an emphasis in poetry from Kansas State University and an MFA in poetry from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Her poems have been published in numerous literary journals and magazines as have her articles on writing and the writing life. A few of them have won awards.

A recent transplant to Charleston, Lisa teaches Poetry and Honors English at the College of Charleston and particularly enjoys spending time at the beach or going on bird walks at Caw Caw Interpretive Center. She continues work on her poetry blog, ZingaraPoet.net, and is actively (and hopefully) submitting her poetry manuscript to suitable markets. She is an avid journal writer and has a shelf of journals to show for it. When not writing, teaching, working, or exploring, Lisa enjoys spending time assembling scrap quilts and doing simple knitting projects.

 

New Creative Writing Class in Charleston Community

f89a6047e669ec1ac91be6381d9ec13eI am happy to announce that I will be teaching  a creative writing class open to community members at Bliss. Thanks to Tish for providing such a wonderful space for dream incubation

Creative Writing Extravaganza
Tuesdays, August 16 – October 4, 2016, 7:00 to 8:30 PM at Bliss Spiritual Co-op
1163 Pleasant Oaks Drive, off Chuck Dawley Blvd
Mount Pleasant, SC

No registration required! Attend all eight weeks or drop in when you can!

Come learn about or deepen your understanding of poetry, memoir, creative non-fiction, essay and short fiction writing. During this eight-week class, we will explore how the raw material of our life experiences informs our artistic expression and how we can develop those expressions into finished pieces. Each class will focus on a specific sample or style of writing from which students will generate their own work by responding to prompts, engaging in invention activities, and emulating the sample writing itself. Time will also be set aside during each class for students to read aloud from any new work they wish to share (always optional). All levels are welcome.

We will explore:

  • Imagination in prose and poetry
  • The music of the sentence
  • Forms of poetry (and why they matter)
  • Elements of narrative
  • The Lyric Essay
  • Flash fiction
  • Fun with metaphor, simile, and personification
  • Flash creative non-fiction
  • The role of the writer’s journal
  • How drawing helps writing
  • Deepening writing through awareness and meditation
  • Deepening awareness and meditation though writing
  • Establishing a regular writing practice
  • Working through fear of failure
  • Working through fear of success
  • The joy of revision
  • Revising life stories for empowerment
  • Deepening craft through self-awareness

Bring your journal, favorite writing instrument, and inner child!

You’re Alive, Damn It: A Poetry Prompt

Misc iPhone 2015 004

It’s amazing that we are here at all.

What I mean is, we human beings are a complex mix of resiliency and vulnerabilities. We take risks dashing across busy streets, regularly travel great distances over vast oceans in planes and boats, forget and leave the oven on, encounter dozens of harmful germs and bacteria while moving through our lives, and still manage do out best to help others every day. We survive heartache, bounce back from job terminations, mourn the death of loved ones, and still, on a whole, manage to get up every morning and, more or less, do it all again.

Maybe we deal with insomnia or indigestion, maybe our cholesterol is high and our metabolism is low, maybe we get depressed, and maybe we drink too much, but were’ alive, damn it, and as long as we are, we remain determined.

For today’s prompt, write a list of every near miss you’ve had in your life. Include the time that guy in the red Corvette DIDN’T hit you when he ran the red light, or the time you THOUGHT you were drowning but really just got water up your nose. Also include those near misses you don’t distinctly remember but which likely happened, like surviving 300 consecutive days of rush-hour traffic in Los Angeles, or something like that. Get fantastical, get lyrical, and make your list long, true, doubtful, and outrageous.

Once you’ve compiled an impressive list of near misses, which may or may not have really occurred, use them as inspiration for a poem.

If you feel up to a challenge, include every singe item on your list, even though the resulting poem may feel contrived. It’s OK, you can always revise.

Otherwise, just pick and choose the most interesting, significant, or unusual instances on your list and use them as motivation to write your next AMAZING poem.

And don’t forget to revise.

When you’ve finished your draft, take a look at this finsihed poem by Laura Kasichke, which is all about “Near Misses.”

Write A Modern Ode

Thanks to Erin Adair-Hodges for today’s poetry prompt inspiration:

Today’s prompt is to write an ode. Not a classical or even English ode, which follow particular formats, but rather, just write a poem in praise of something. Except, since we’re post-post-post, not really. Write an ode to something not usually praised or for which you have, at best, mixed feelings. Here is a great example, Kevin Young’s “Ode to the Midwest.”

This exercise is inspired by my trip to the dentist today. There were kitten posters on the ceiling.

Help Yourself

Here is my version of an exercise that’s been floating around the writing world for some time. It’s simple, straight-forward and pretty powerful. Please complete each step before moving on to the next.

—–

First, list the things in life that get between you and your writing and creativity – even those things that are legitimate, like taking care of the kids and washing the dishes. Include on this list any pesky internal obstructions and voices, like “I can’t write about that, it would hurt ____.” Make the list as long as you have time for – you can return to it for future writing exercises.

Second, read over your list and select one or two things that are particularly vexing for you at this very moment. It might be different the next time you approach this exercise – that’s fine. For now, go with your instinct and choose one or two items from your list that are really giving you a tough time or bogging you down in some way today.

Third, imagine yourself in a private sanctuary or someplace like Superman’s fortress of solitude. You are safe and everything you say is completely protected and will never be heard by another living soul. Spend the next 20 or so minutes writing, in first person, a detailed description of a specific time you wrestled with one of the challenges on your list. Where did it happen? When? How? It’s important that you don’t generalize here. Be as specific as you possibly can.

Fourth, reread the story you’ve just written but change the voice and perspective from first to third person (that is, change every I to a she/he or to a proper noun – like Joe). You may need to adjust verbs while you’re at it.

Fifth, do not continue until you’ve completed step three.

Sixth, read and listen to yourself as you read the new story (aloud or silently in your fortress of solitude). Put yourself in the role of sympathetic advisor and offer some useful, helpful and empathetic words of support and advice for the person (that’s you) in the new story. Notice how you feel a little lighter and more empowered?

You can use these steps as a kind of template with which you can experiment in order to overcome writing or any creativity block. It is adjustable and can be made to fit any circumstance.

Happy writing!

Write With Joy!

Today’s writing exercise is adapted from Rebecca McClanahan’s “Write Your Heart Out. ”

We find it relatively easy to write when times are tying or when we experience grief, sadness or anger. We are, after all, encouraged to use our journals to vent about difficult situations so that we might work through them. Experience may have even taught us that this approach to our discomfort and confusion is preferable to sitting with these frustrations for an inordinate amount of time. McClanahan refers to this tendency to write only when in pain as the “foxhole syndrome: writing as desperate prayer.” When happiness returns, we suddenly have nothing to say.

Perhaps this is because happiness so absorbs us that we don’t stop to think about writing. Maybe we fear writing about our happiness is tantamount to testing the fates. McCallahan writes that:

French theologian Francois Mauriac called happiness the most dangerous of all experiences, ‘because all the happiness possible increases our thirst and the voice of love makes an emptiness, a solitude reverberate.’ Seen this way, happiness is a scary proposition. As our capacity for joy increases, so does our capacity to feel all emotions. So won’t we be sadder than ever when the happiness ends?(98)

Or maybe we just forget to notice the small things that do make us happy. Our brains are finely tuned to notice the dangers that surround us and dismiss that which cannot immediately hurt us. If it is not a threat, we do not make note of it.

Take some time this week to notice things that bring you joy, no matter how small, and make a daily list. Start with yourself – your eyes, hands, ears, nose, etc. From there, take in your surroundings and note that which bring you joy – music, books, a warm blanket and a comfy couch.

This exercise only takes minutes a day and will result in a more joyful you.

Good luck, and happy writing.