creativity

The Three Ball Juggling Club

jugglerYou might think that learning to juggle is something that some people do to pass the time away, or even to waste time, but it is actually of great benefit to people in many different ways.

Juggling certainly is a great way of taking a break and enables you to return to more intensive mental activity feeling refreshed. On the other hand, though, there are cognitive and educational benefits to learning juggling skills and at The Safe House we use juggling to develop our understanding of patterns and procedures and to devise strategies which help our learning in other areas.

At the same time, research has shown that juggling can help people with dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, hyperactivity and even Alzheimer’s disease because it is an activity which challenges the brain and keeps it active and ready to deal with the complex tasks of everyday life, including learning.

Juggling facilitates the development of problem-solving skills and can help to develop qualities such as patience and perseverance. At the same time, as a person develops the skill, it can stimulate imagination and creativity, qualities that are vital in the modern world.

The Safe House Three Ball Juggling Club Sessions begin with learning how to juggle. This can be a short or long part of the sessions as different people learn at different rates. However, once you know ‘the trick’, it is usually a matter of individual patience and motivation.

For this reason, The Three Ball Juggling Club Sessions are an ideal medium through which to assess your own motivation and, through this assessment, to develop ways of getting stuff done even when you maybe don’t feel like it.

These sessions focus on the skill of three ball juggling, but also incorporate a range of other areas of learning depending on the needs of the participant(s).

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in this scheme, either as a client or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss supporting The Safe House Juggling Club, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”

 

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The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions

gecko

The Flash Fiction Writing Sessions are for anybody to read and / or do. They can be done independently online or in structured group sessions delivered by The Safe House.

The sessions encourage structure and creativity in writing through presenting a stimulus and a guide on how to approach each specific writing task. Participants are encouraged to use each session to produce a short piece of creative writing.

For more information on the Flash Fiction Writing Sessions at The Safe House go here.


italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions, either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own Flash Fiction Writing sessions with us, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”

The Cardboard Library

girl moon umbrella butterflies adana1The Cardboard Library sessions are creative writing development sessions.

Participants are led through a series of stimulating journeys, both real and virtual, which form the catalyst for poetry, flash fiction and short story writing. The products from these sessions are collated and presented by The Safe House as The Cardboard Library, a hand-made occasional ‘magazine’ showcasing new creative writing talent.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions, either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

Left Luggage

The Left Luggage project is based around a series of walkshop events comprising:

  • poetry reading.
  • local sights and landmarks.
  • walking, talking, discovery and writing.cat on the luggage

The Left Luggage sessions involve walks in the outdoors, poetry readings and discussion. They focus on understanding, analysis, comparison and appreciation of poetry as well as offering an opportunity to read and hear poetry in the fresh air.

These sessions could be particularly useful for anybody who is working towards GCSE or A Level English Literature qualifications.

Of course, practice in understanding poetry for national qualifications is not the only benefit of the Left Luggage sessions  and we are sure that they will inspire participants to seek out more poetry and maybe even write some too!

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions either as an  attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own sessions as part of the Left Luggage series, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

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everything is going to be all right

Rhyme (1)

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

photo.PNG-1This session is about rhyme.

Rhyme has been used in all sorts of writing, whether for reading aloud or listening to in your head. It’s about the sound.

Activity

Look out of a window or inside your mind. Grab four words and create a rhyme. Follow this process, let’s see what flows and you can decide if it’s poetry or prose.

Stimulus

The stimulus is the activity above. Here it is again:

01 rhyme page stimulus
Guide

The stimulus is the result of the activity. The process is the means by which the result comes about.

You are the writer, though, and you should use the process to create your own result. You can omit, redo, revisit, edit each part of the process to fit with your ideas.

You, the writer, will decide.

Word count and process

The stimulus is exactly 30 words. When we’re dealing with rhyme, we might think about rhythm too. They often work in tangent. This will affect the number of words you use. Now is  not the time to go into metre, rhythm, tempo or beat, but at least we might say that these 30 words make up a verse.

Thirty words. A single verse with four lines and two rhymes. It could be extended. You could make your own and use the process to develop your writing further.

The process could go something like this:

  • Look through a window or into your mind.

This part can be done any time and pretty much anywhere. You need to stop what you’re doing, though, and use time just to look. And think a bit.

Decide whether there’s anything you want to write about that is going on through the window. Maybe there’s nothing that motivates you. Maybe there’s no window. If either of these things is true, you will need to go into your mind. As you know, there are infinite possibilities there!

Whichever you choose – through the window, into your mind, or a combination of the two,

  • select and write down two words to use in creating your piece.

For example:

02 image window process

  • Write a short sentence using each word.

This is a part of the session where you, the writer, need to take charge and create. Use a pen and paper, a memo or note taking app, a computer. Write two sentences. For example:

03 image original 2 sentences

  • Take the last word of each sentence and note them somehow like this:

04 image mind flows

  • Wrack your brains and list as many words as you can think of that rhyme with the last word of one of your sentences. Do the same with the other sentence.

For example:

05 image with list

  • Choose one word from each list.

Choose words that you like, that fit, that sound right, that work.

  • Now have a go.

Write a sentence that ends in one of these words. Put this sentence with the sentence your new sentence rhymes with. Read what you have written. Revise, edit, rewrite as required. Do the same thing with your second word and one of the rhyming words you noted.

  • If things don’t work out, you can scrap stuff. Read, re-read, rewrite, delete, revise, edit. Read, re-read, rewrite, delete, revise, edit.

For example:

06 image corrections

  • Spend time proof-reading for any spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and check it makes sense. Make sure you would be happy for other people to read it.
  • Leave it for a while and then come back and edit it one more time. For lots of different reasons, you might want to change some of the other words in your piece. At some point, though, you should remind yourself to stop.
  • Save what you have written.

For example:

07 image complete page

What next?

Realms of Gold Hand written manuscriptIf you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

Lizard in the Luggage

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

geckoThis session uses a true story that appeared in an English newspaper a few years ago.

The task is to turn it into a piece of flash fiction.

The newspaper story is quite amusing as it is, but I don’t think it’s really finished.

What do you think could have happened next?

Let your imagination chase you up the wall!

Activity:

Read the newspaper story and then write your own story mixing facts from the story with ideas that come out of your head.

Stimulus:

The stimulus is this short newspaper story:

Lizard in Luggage

Two newlyweds arrived home from their honeymoon in the Seychelles to find a gecko lizard had stowed away in their suitcase.

Tania and Tony Lugg only spotted the small reptile when their pet cat started chasing it up the wall of their home. Luckily, the lizard escaped and remained safe on the ceiling until Tania and Tony got the cat out of the way.

They have now adopted him as a pet and named the insect-eating gecko Denis – after the island in the Indian Ocean where they honeymooned. He seems to be recovering from his ordeal and is settling into his new life in the UK.

Administrator Tanis, 28, from Bournemouth, Dorset, said: “We didn’t unpack for a couple of days, so Denis must have been in our luggage for nearly four days.”

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lizard-in-luggage-563398

Guide:

The newspaper article is just the beginning. The story you write could go anywhere. It might be realistic or it might be fantasy. I suppose it could even turn into a horror story!

You could also change some of the details in the story to fit with your ideas. You, the writer, will decide.

Think about these questions:

  • What did the lizard look like?
  • How big was it?
  • How did it react to being transported from its home?
  • What was its reaction to the cat? Why?
  • What did the cat think of the lizard?
  • What are Tania and Tony like?
  • Are they happy? Why? Why not?
  • What effect has the lizard had on their lives?
  • What happened when Tania and Tony went back to work?
  • Does the story have a ‘happy’ ending?

When you have spent a bit of time thinking about these questions, you probably need to decide whose point of view the story is from. That means, who is telling the story. Is there a narrator? Is it one of the people? Is it the lizard? Is it the cat?

This decision will affect how your story is written. Is it in first person or third person, or rather, ‘I’ or ‘he’/’she’?

You probably also need to think about whether you are going to give the lizard (or the cat) human qualities and even voices. If you do this, you will be using a creative writing technique called personification. This can be an entertaining way of telling a story about animals because it can help your readers to engage with the characters in your story.

Word count and process

The newspaper article is 133 words long. You could use some, or even all, of these words. It’s really up to you, but I think you could at least try and double the word count. That would mean you are aiming for just under 300 words. Of course, your story could easily be longer than that. It’s up to you … and your imagination!

The process should probably go something like this:

  • Read the newspaper article and then spend some time thinking about the questions in the guide section of this session. Get a good idea at this stage about what is going to happen in your story. You should try and be clear about how it will end. You could make notes to help you with this.
  • Use your notes to write the story in full sentences and paragraphs.
  • When you have done this, spend time proof-reading for any spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and check it makes sense. Make sure you would be happy for other people to read it.
  • Leave it for a while and then come back and edit it one more time. You might want to add or take out some details at this stage, but hopefully you won’t need to make any massive changes to your plot because your ideas and your notes at the beginning of the process were good.

What next?

cat on the luggage

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

A Kid’s Story.

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

This session is based on:

A Kid’s Story?

A Kids’ Story?

Our Kid’s Story?

Ah, Kids’ Story.

Kids, the Story.

Ah! Kid’s Story.

Well, a Kid’s Story.

owl talonsYup yup…

Activity:

Think of a time when you were nine

You were scared. A bully, a beast?

A dream, a reality?

Stimulus

Me and Isaac, and Yvette and Fin and Becky, did a Flash Fiction Writing Session a while ago. It was about a boy who got scared in a hotel room in Paris.

This is Isaac’s story:

OWL STORY

I was nine, nearly ten, in a hotel room at night in America. I was scared. I was scared because of noises.  The next day I saw an owl sitting on the window sill. I said ‘Oh! Thank God’.

Guide:

This piece is written in the first person. It makes us wonder how much of it is autobiographical.

You could write a piece in the first person like this or you could write it in the third person. That way you could create writing that gives the point of view of another person. It could be a real person or a fictional person. As the writer, you get to decide.

owl faceBut, be sure to remember:

  • Get it done and then work on the detail.
  • Re-read, re-read, re-read.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar are crucial.

Word count and process

Isaac’s Owl Story is 39 words long. We think that’s spot on and reckon a 30 to 60 word target might be good.

Later, you could make it rhyme and turn it into poetry.

You could spend forever just working on a sentence or two. It could be interesting.

Look for other Sessions from The Safe House on ways to edit and proofread your writing.

What next?

Send it to us at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

“I Live With The People I Create”

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

The session this week involves a worksheet!

the mortgaged heartWell, sort of, but it goes on to give you practise introducing a character in fiction writing. The session also invites you to write some non-fiction in the form of a  review of this aspect of Carson McCullers’ writing.

Below you will find the opening paragraph to four stories by Carson McCullers. In these paragraphs, she introduces the reader to central characters of her stories through brief description and efficient yet compelling suggestion. Her choice of words and focus of attention enable us to create  pictures of her characters in our minds from the very beginning of her stories.

Activity:

In this session’s opening activity, every seventh word has been removed from the texts.

Can you think of a word that would ‘fit’ in each space?

Take a look at these:

Text 1:

When Hans was only a block ­­­­­__________  the hotel a chill rain began __________  fall, draining the colour from the __________  that were just being turned on __________  Broadway. He fastened his pale eyes __________  the sign reading COLTON ARMS, tucked __________  sheet of music under his overcoat __________  hurried on. By the time he __________  inside the dingily marbled lobby his __________  was coming in sharp pants and __________  sheet of music was crumpled.

(From ‘Poldi’ by Carson McCullers)

Text 2:

Her peaked, young face stared for __________  time, unsatisfied, at the softer blue __________  the sky that fringed the horizon. __________  with a quiver of her open __________  she rested her head again on __________  pillow, tilted the panama hat over __________  eyes, and lay motionless in the __________  striped chair. Chequered shade patterns jerked __________  the blanket covering her thin body. __________  drones sounded from the spirea bushes __________ sprayed out their white blossoms nearby.

Constance dozed for a moment. She awoke __________  the smothering smell of hot straw – __________  Miss Whelan’s voice.

(From ‘Breath From The Sky’ by Carson McCullers)

Text 3:

Hugh looked for his mother at __________  corner, but she was not in __________  yard. Sometimes she would be out __________  with the border of spring flowers – __________  candytuft, the sweet William, the lobelias (__________  had taught him the names) – but __________  the green front lawn with the __________  of many-coloured flowers was empty __________  the frail sunshine of the mid-__________  afternoon. Hugh raced up the sidewalk, __________ John followed him. They finished the __________  steps with two bounds, and the __________  slammed after them.

(From ‘The Haunted Boy’ by Carson McCullers)

Text 4:

The young man at the table __________ the station lunch room knew neither __________  name nor the location of the __________ where he was, and he had __________  knowledge of the hour more exact __________ that it was some time between __________  and morning. He realised that he __________  already be in the south, but __________  there were many more hours journeying __________  he would reach home. For a __________  time he had sat at the __________  over a half finished bottle of __________, relaxed to a gangling position – with __________  things fallen loose apart and with __________  foot stepping on the other ankle. __________  hair needed cutting and hung down __________  ragged over his forehead and his __________  as he stared down at the __________  was absorbed, but mobile and quick __________  change with his shifting thoughts. The __________  was lean and suggestive of restlessness __________  a certain innocent, naked questioning. On __________  floor beside the boy were two __________  and a packing box, each tagged __________  with a card on which was __________ -written his name – Andrew Leander, and __________  address in one of the larger __________  in Georgia.

These texts have been turned into cloze tests.

A cloze test is intended to assess a person’s ability to read and understand text and choose words accurately. They can also help to develop vocabulary. As well as these uses, they can become an interesting, and maybe fun (?), activity for practising intensive reading and sentence structure analysis, both of which are useful skills for writing.  Cloze tests are also a good way to practise proof reading for meaning.

Stimulus:

The ‘stimulus’ for this session is the four introductory paragraphs by Carson McCullers.

Here they are:

Text 1:

When Hans was only a block from the hotel a chill rain began to fall, draining the colour from the lights that were just being turned on along Broadway. He fastened his pale eyes on the sign reading COLTON ARMS, tucked a sheet of music under his overcoat and hurried on. By the time he stepped inside the dingily marbled lobby his breath was coming in sharp pants and the sheet of music was crumpled.

(From ‘Poldi’ by Carson McCullers)

Text 2:

Her peaked, young face stared for a time, unsatisfied, at the softer blue of the sky that fringed the horizon. Then with a quiver of her open mouth she rested her head again on the pillow, tilted the panama hat over her eyes, and lay motionless in the canvas striped chair. Chequered shade patterns jerked over the blanket covering her thin body. Bee drones sounded from the spirea bushes that sprayed out their white blossoms nearby.

Constance dozed for a moment. She awoke to the smothering smell of hot straw – and Miss Whelan’s voice.

(From ‘Breath From The Sky’ by Carson McCullers)

Text 3:

Hugh looked for his mother at the corner, but she was not in the yard. Sometimes she would be out fooling with the border of spring flowers – the candytuft, the sweet William, the lobelias (she had taught him the names) – but today the green front lawn with the borders of many-coloured flowers was empty under the frail sunshine of the mid-April afternoon. Hugh raced up the sidewalk, and John followed him. They finished the front steps with two bounds, and the door slammed after them.

(From ‘The Haunted Boy’ by Carson McCullers)

Text 4:

The young man at the table of the station lunch room knew neither the name nor the location of the town where he was, and he had no knowledge of the hour more exact than that it was some time between midnight and morning. He realised that he must already be in the south, but that there were many more hours journeying before he would reach home. For a long time he had sat at the table over a half finished bottle of beer, relaxed to a gangling position – with his things fallen loose apart and with one foot stepping on the other ankle. His hair needed cutting and hung down softly ragged over his forehead and his expression as he stared down at the table was absorbed, but mobile and quick to change with his shifting thoughts. The face was lean and suggestive of restlessness and a certain innocent, naked questioning. On the floor beside the boy were two suitcases and a packing box, each tagged neatly with a card on which was type-written his name – Andrew Leander, and an address in one of the larger towns in Georgia.

(From ‘Untitled Piece’ by Carson McCullers)

Guide:

The cloze tests are exercises in thinking carefully about grammatical accuracy and how it affects sentence structure and meaning.

If a writer chooses a word that doesn’t ‘fit’ grammatically, the text will read badly and may not even make sense.

Unless you are doing it for effect, inaccurate grammar is frustrating for most readers!

Sometimes, it seems, there is only one word that is possible in the cloze tests. More often, though, there is more than one possibility, sometimes perhaps only two, but often there are quite a few different words that could go in each space.

What does it depend on? Why is it that sometimes there is only one possibility and yet other times there are many possibilities?

Word count and process

You can do the first activity on the computer by copying the edited texts onto a word processing document. That way, you could fill the spaces electronically. Instead, you could print the texts onto paper and use a pen or pencil to fill in the spaces.

Either way, the task is to complete the texts with one appropriate word in each space. Simple!

Here is the suggested procedure for the whole session from the beginning:

1. Copy the texts or print them.
2. Fill in the spaces with just one word in each space.
3. Check your answers with the original texts by Carson McCullers.
4. Think about the differences between your words and McCullers’ words.

You could make notes on some of these things:

  • Are some of the differences due to grammatical error?
  • Are some of the differences related to context or mood?
  • What are these differences?
  • Why have they come about?

5. Write a few sentences in response to the questions below:

  • Who are the people McCullers describes?
  • What words or phrases does McCullers use to help us picture these characters?
  • What do the characters look like? How do you know?
  • What aspects of the characters’ personalities does McCullers describe?
  • How do you feel about the characters?

6. Turn your responses into a paragraph.
7. Write a paragraph to introduce a character of your own.

rugged lion

Image by Isabel Ayre-Lynch

If you complete the process described, your paragraph for part 6 might be between 100 and 150 words. You could certainly write more, if you became interested in the analysis.

The shortest of McCullers’ paragraphs is 75 words long, the longest is 190. This seems to be a good range for the word count in part 7.

Completing this whole session might take you quite some time. If you take it on, you will need to take plenty of breaks. Maybe you could do it bit by bit over a period of time – A day? A week?

Have a look at this session for stuff related to routine:

Day By Day – A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House

Of course, you could just do bits of the session and that would be fine.

I Live With The People I CreateWhat next?

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

share@thisisthesafehouse.com

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!