Writing for liberation exercise: Powerful metaphors

Like everything with writing, creating powerful metaphors comes with lots of practice, and more hard work and crappy writing than most people are comfortable with. Metaphors are not spontaneous bursts of genius.

Exercises and tools to help you or your group be more creative in life

Following on from my post on the importance of creativity to everyday life and to struggle, here are some activities you, your workplace, family, organisation, or other types of groups can try. These tools can help you generate ideas when you are at a loss for how to solve a problem, or they can help... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: squiggle drawings for non-linear thought

I often do this activity with kids - turn a squiggle into a drawing - but this writing exercise takes that a step further. Close your eyes and draw some random lines, circles, loops, zigzags, or whatever, on a piece of paper, or using a paint program. Then, open your eyes and turn what you... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: go further than you can go

Have you ever noticed that when you write that first get-it-off-your-chest draft of a poem or story, it's often the last bit that has the gems in it? When we first start writing, we're often not sure where we want to take something, or what it is exactly that we're trying to say, but the... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: The shapes of things

"The shape of power ... is a tree. Root to tip, central trunk branch and re-branching ... the shape of power is the outline of a living thing straining outward, sending its fine tendrils a little further and a little further," wrote Naomi Alderman in The Power. Have a think about Alderman's description of what... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation course – intermediate to advanced

While there are a lot of free or affordable courses online for writing (and perhaps also in person in your local area), these tend to focus on the basics. The art of writing takes a whole life time to master. It's an ongoing process of experimentation, discovery, and fine-tuning. One way to help your growth... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: Make it ugly

Clotty seas, fungal walls, insipid kindness, reckless jokes, a grotty smile - it can be fun to play with contrasts, the unexpected, and in this case - make nice things ugly. It's easy to find all the right adjectives and stack them up in front of the horrid stuff of life. And it's easy to... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: self observation

A common writing exercise is to go somewhere - say a park - and write what you see, based on the five key senses - sight, smell, sound, taste, and texture. Sometimes I like to modify this exercise and instead write what I imagine - the stories of the lives of people sitting in the... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: dealing with depression

The battle against depression (short or long term) has many fronts, including, in my opinion, the battle for a humanity and environment-first world where we are less alienated at work and among each other. But what makes writing such a powerful tool for both personal and political problems (which are invariably linked) is that we... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: relinquish purpose

Some writers I know will sit down one day and write for 5 minutes or 24 hours (yes, I know that person) because they feel like it. I rarely do this. Now and then I'll write some thoughts down in a diary, or I get ideas for articles or novels at odd moments, but I... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: Surreal words

We paint with words. We take colours and ideas and forms and we stroke and blend them together to create new things. For this exercise, take inspiration from these surreal art works, and brainstorm at least 10 objects, at least 10 verbs, and at least 10 descriptive adjectives (colours, shape etc), and use them to... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: People watching

I love going to a nearby plaza or sitting in a cafe or on the train and writing about the people I can see. I observe their posture, facial expressions, and actions, and imagine how they are feeling and what they could be thinking. It's a great exercise for practising the connections between physical description... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercises: Quick creativity

Creativity is, in essence, new ideas, new ways of seeing things, new combinations of old things. Sometimes when we're writing - articles, novels, stories, songs etc - it can be hard to chill and get into a creative frame of mind. The following super-quick exercises can be helpful in opening you up to new ideas... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: Combating stereotypes

In the story and creative world, there's two fairly obvious things wrong with stereotypes: They tend to reinforce prejudice and discrimination, and reduce the particular group of humans down to just a few elements (but people are complex and aren't just their appearance or intelligence or food choices). They are boring to read and don't... Continue Reading →

Creativity exercise: photo challenges

A lot of people on social media are doing the 7-day black and white photo challenge, so here are some more creativity-provoking photo challenges to try. After you're done, you could even use them as story prompts or for mini writing exercises (with a vignette for each photo). Note, for these you could do one... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: odd moments

It can be nice, and freeing, to move away from the typical (overused, cliche) plot points of murder, marriage, affairs, and winning, to just honing in on a single, strange moment. I like these moments because they are so humanising, and precisely because they can counter the Hollywood cliches about life and what is exciting... Continue Reading →

Writing exercise: Ghosts of injustice

Ghosts in stories tend to represent a single person - a child who died young or was killed, whose presence continues to haunt her family, the victims of a serial killer who haunt a house, a woman killed on a highway who scares passing drivers. For me, a non-believer in ghosts, I see these as... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: word portrait

Ask a friend, or someone you know who feels comfortable with you- ideally a person feeling pain or suffering in some way - if you can word-draw them. The idea is that they sit in front of you, quietly, and you can observe them. Instead of drawing, you'll write down words. ┬áMaybe you'll notice the... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: Madlib poem

The purpose of this exercise is to have some fun, play with those creative juices, and get them flowing for ideas to come. We're going to use someone else's poem though, so the product coming out of this obviously can't be used elsewhere: but in the process of doing this exercise or afterwards, who knows... Continue Reading →

Writing for liberation exercise: play like a child

Last week in class, I watched my tiny kids turn pillows into castles, physically eat and swallow a "pizza" we made out of much spilt glue and coloured-in vegetables, and act out the animals of the masks they wore. I wish I had that amount of imagination, that much freedom in my mind to think... Continue Reading →

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