Doing a 1 hour Adult/Teen Writing Program Next Month

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Doing a 1 hour Adult/Teen Writing Program Next Month

Postby Shiral » Fri Aug 03, 2007 12:21 pm

This is not a news to me, as my supervisor and I decided to do this back in March, but now it's getting serious as it gets nearer. I'm calling the program "Fiction Writing for Busy People." The target audience is for professional people who want to fulfill their dream of writing fiction while not dropping whatever balls they have to juggle in life. The objectives are: *Teaching people they can get a lot done in short, intense writing sessions. *Have them participate in two brief writing exercises to get them inspired, so I don't just turn into a talking head for an hour. *How to do necessary literary research in an efficient and purposeful way. I'm having to make a lot of decisions about what to leave out, as you can't teach people everything they need to know about writing fiction in a single one hour program. I'm looking forward to it, and feeling nervous about it even so. I'm in the process of writing a script for myself to go along with a power-point slide presentation to illustrate my points. I keep changing my mind about what should come first etc etc. Melissa
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Postby kashtanka » Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:00 pm

Melissa, The class you have in mind sounds wonderful. As I see it, if the class is only going to be an hour long, your main role will be as a motivator. I believe that many people would be interested in your class, but for them to really walk away with something, they may have to be coaxed into making the time to write in a much more gradual way. If I were a busy professional, (which I was up until three years ago) I'd like to walk away feeling that my writing ideas were good ones, by having a chance to read my work and getting encouragement, especially from the instructor. I would like to be in relaxed atmosphere where I could ask questions. Interactive classes are much better for me than the ones where an instructor uses all the time. I don't know all the facts...maybe you've only been alotted an hour for the class, or that is all the time you think people would want to invest. When I went to my first class on getting started in writing, the class was three hours long. I didn't mind investing the time because I was extremely interested in the subject. In any case, good luck on presenting your material the best way you know how.
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Postby Shiral » Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:05 pm

I'm doing an hour program because that's about as long as I can face! :wink: Also, I don't want to bore the participants. Better to leave them wanting more than to have them sitting there thinking \"How long is she going to go ON?\" while drummng their fingers and looking at their watches. We may dribble a few minutes past the one hour mark, as I don't think anything else is scheduled for that room that day, and I want to bring it to a natural close rather than just say \"okay that was sixty minutes, get lost people.\" But it won't go much beyond that, I hope. I'm just hoping the heat will have tapered off by then, as that room has a lot of windows. This is really the Alpha run of this program. I may end up doing it at our other branch libraries if the scheduling can be worked out and they show interest in it. But this is when I'll find out what works and what doesn't. :shock: I'm sure I'll need to do some fine tuning afterwards. I hope people will leave feeling motivated. At very least, I hope they'll leave feeling that they can pursue their literary dream in small increments, even if they have small children, jobs and parents who need them. That's part of my reason for including exercises for the participants, so that they won't just sit there having to listen to me blather on. I've written my script so that I CAN keep things moving along. This week, I have to figure out how to project my slide show in the room and do a fast dry run to make sure everything works and that I know I can get it together and have the program itself run smoothly. I did run through it for my mom and my sister last Friday, at least showing them my slide show, and they liked it. Huge, anxious sigh, Melissa
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Postby kashtanka » Mon Sep 03, 2007 2:47 pm

Shiral, I was wondering if you were still going to give the class. I'm so happy for you! Giving a class like that is a very scannerish thing to do...you know how to write, and you turned your talent into a greater thing by decided to teach others about it. You'll also benefit from teaching the class. When I did some teaching (tutoring actually) I found that I needed to study the subject matter inside out so that I was always on my toes when a student asked me a question. From other posts that you're written about your writing, I think you'll do a fantastic job. I can't wait to hear how you do! I understand now why you think a one hour class is the best thing to do. Like you said, you can always teach additional classes. Let us know how you do. Kathy
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Re: Doing a 1 hour Adult/Teen Writing Program Next Month

Postby Beth L » Wed May 07, 2008 9:03 pm

Melissa, How did your writing class go? Did you expand it to other locations or increase the time for it? I'm curious because I am doing a Biography Writing Workshop for a 3rd grade class as a pilot project. I'd like to know what you found worked well & what didn't. Thanks for any info. Beth L
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Re: Doing a 1 hour Adult/Teen Writing Program Next Month

Postby Shiral » Thu May 08, 2008 11:03 am

Hi Beth My program last September was successful as I define success, and the participants appeared to enjoy it I had ten people, which was about what I hoped for, although I would have been happy with just five. I'm doing a second program this coming August, but am retooling my presentation for that one. Since it was my first time, I was nervous, and tried to cram too much information into too little time. You can't pack a whole MFA fiction writing degree program into a one hour session but darned if I didn't try. :wink: My second program will concentrate on Conflict and Resolution in fiction I've been working on it a lot this past week, and I think I've broken through a mental barrier. My format is a powerpoint slide show using humerous clipart to illustrate my points with a script to follow for my own sense of security. There will be at least three writing exercises for the participants to do during the hour. I do recommend including short writing exercises for your participants to do, especially since you'll be teaching kids. It's a lot more interesting for them than sitting and listening to one person talk for an hour. They feel more involved and they walk out feeling that they've accomplished something, and perhaps will retain more of what you tell them. But to be honest, I'm winging it. I don't have any kind of magic formula. Sometimes I feel as panicky as someone who is mistaken for a doctor while wearing a white coat. I've been writing for over twenty years now and I remember the writing exercises my teacher used, but I don't have a degree in creative writing although I do have a published story to my credit. But one story doesn't exactly make me the equivalent of Tolstoy. For a free one hour program at a public library, I can get away with it, but I doubt I'd ever be hired as a regular writing teacher. For the moment, since this is only my second time I'm doing it at Cupertino, and haven't tried expanding it too far. I've learned through experience that I do best when I start small and build from there rather than trying to do too much at once. There is a craft side to writing or acting which can be taught and can be learned, but although there are a lot of books for writers to help them write a novel, there's almost NOTHING out there to give one clues on effective ways to TEACH other people that craft. I know, because I've looked! Melissa
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Re: Doing a 1 hour Adult/Teen Writing Program Next Month

Postby Beth L » Thu May 08, 2008 11:45 am

Melissa, Thanks for the information. For my 3rd grade Writing Workshop, I wanted them to write a short biography of someone in their lives. I gave them handouts to explain the 5 steps of the writing process, how to conduct an interview with someone and a list of questions to ask. The workshop is over a 3-week period. I also wanted them to use "juicy" words, so we had an interactive discussion about what that means. When someone came up with a juicy description, I tossed them a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. That inspired them to come up with more descriptive words than "nice" or "pretty." I did check first with the teacher about the gum & she actually allows it in her classroom, which surprised me. Halfway through the workshops now, I am getting mixed results. At this point, I thought they would be actually writing their stories. In the class of 24, about 5 are doing quite well, 8 have done nothing yet to interview anyone and the other 10 or so are somewhere in between. I do wonder if I am expecting too much out of them, or if they are too young an audience for writing bio's. By the end of next week, we are planning to have the kids present their bio's by reading them to an audience. I have nice writing journals or a pen set for each of the best 4 presentations. Depending on how good the final results are, I do hope to expand from one class to a whole group of classes. I really can't afford to donate my time & prizes indefinitely, but I thought I might be able to get a grant of some kind. So we'll see what happens. Beth L
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