Writing Proposals To write this article, I am basing myself on the second part of Eva kalian’s book, “Writing and getting people to write”, published in 2018 by DeBoeck editions.
In a first article devoted to this book, I have already mentioned writing proposals as being the privileged tool of the workshop leader. It is a tool that the latter must create, develop and adapt to his audience. This writing proposal sets the writing in motion and arouses it. How to create a Wikipedia profile its primary objective is to have a text written.
Creating writing proposals becomes an exciting path, because it is the creative space of the facilitator. The latter turns into a word broker. Each writing proposal opens up a new space that will allow the participant to explore their writing path.
The primary objective: to have a text written
The writing proposal is created to facilitate entry into writing, but it can also slow it down. The facilitator cannot choose it at random like that without having thought about the objectives of the session he is proposing in advance.
A writing workshop is a place where you learn writing techniques. You can also go there to find ideas for topics, to loosen your writing, for other reasons already mentioned in my previous articles.
The writing constraint imposes a framework, and that’s what frees writing. No one can start writing like this by snapping their fingers. It’s like learning to drive: nobody starts by driving directly on a highway!
The writing proposal arouses the writing itself, sets it in motion, develops the imagination. Writing Proposals An instruction like “write a text on the snow” does not develop the imagination at all. On the contrary, it does not evoke anything, it does not surprise: it is too imprecise, not sufficiently framed.
If the proposed instructions are too imprecise, the workshop participants will be confronted with the anguish of the blank page, will fear not having enough imagination and will undoubtedly end in a certain boredom by thinking, rightly, that ‘they spent their money or their time for nothing.
Writing Proposals Creativity awakens in the face of a constraint, an obstacle to be overcome. Going back to the example around snow, if you associate words like ‘ banana, red tractor or mother’ with the context of snow, you directly appeal to the imagination and you make possible the cohabitation of two opposing elements.
To create a proposal that will be the trigger element when writing, it is preferable to bring together two minimum elements between them, which have nothing in common. This will surprise the participants, get them out of their way, and probably bother them at first, in a way.
The stronger the constraint, the more it will impose the setting in motion of creativity, the deployment of the imagination. Writing Proposals The texts resulting from this kind of propositions are often interesting and leave the pride of place to the unconscious and to chance.
But, in the long term, this kind of proposal in no way leads to the autonomy of the participants, who mostly end up collecting texts and going around in circles.
Fun writing proposals
The playful writing proposal must be firm, directive, without compromise. The allotted writing time is generally short: 5 to 15 minutes. It is more akin to the game, to a challenge launched to the participants. These proposals lead to guaranteed writing.
Everyone ‘obeys’ the instruction and this creates text. Very often, the meaning of the text appears after it has been written. The playful proposals hardly appeal to the imagination and involve chance and the unconscious. The facilitator will have to look for promising situations, confusing constraints.
This is the work that has been carried out in the past by the surrealists, the Olio, Raymond Juneau and Georges Perce, whose research bases are very rich.
Here are 2 examples of playful writing proposals:
- Make a list of 50 words, the first ones that come to mind. Give this list to your neighbor. Using the list you just received, write a text in 10 minutes that uses as many of these words as possible.
- From the words cut out from the pictures that you find on the table, take 10 at random. Glue them on an A4 sheet. When you are finished, write a text that uses each of these words in the order in which they appear.
These suggestions can be used as a warm-up. They promote a relaxed atmosphere and allow some to ‘unblock’ themselves from writing in a group. They also offer the pleasure of the game.
Repeated, they can soften the imagination, opening new doors for it and stimulating the work of the unconscious, put to the test by the constraint and the reduced time of writing. In addition, the short texts produced can generate others, be extended, and reworked.
Nevertheless, if the facilitator only gives playful proposals, he leaves the participants in the game, in the immediate pleasure. The facilitator must know what he is doing and announce it to his participants from the start.
The stake of the writing proposal
The stake of a proposal is that it can ‘make work’. In a social reintegration workshop, the stake of a first session may be to promote communication in the group. The facilitator will build a proposal that will put the participants in contact, will promote exchanges, without formulating a clear objective.
As this is a writing workshop, it is therefore through writing and its practice that the objectives will be worked on, and not through speeches.
Here is an example:
- Two people pass each other on a staircase. They both carry a heavy or bulky object. They exchange a few words. In groups of two, each taking the voice of one of these characters, write this dialogue of about twenty lines.
If it is a personal development workshop, two options are possible:
- either fiction
- Or the autobiography.
Here is an example:
- Your spouse writes a letter to a friend living abroad. He hasn’t seen her for six months. Write this imaginary letter”.
An issue can be fun, recreational, communicational, and even social. The writing proposal must therefore be a motor that sets the writing in motion in a direction chosen and marked out by the facilitator, according to the objectives he pursues.
Writing proposals with a literary stake
Writing Proposals The adjective ‘literary’ may sound pretentious or mysterious. A writing workshop will therefore be of the literary type if the production of written texts is supported by questioning and aesthetic research nourished by the group.
The literary writing workshop is a place where one writes by developing one’s possibilities of invention, by being concerned about the aesthetics of the text, and by questioning this aesthetic by discovering the writing of others.
If the workshop is literary, the writing proposals will obviously support literary issues. These can be experimentation, the appropriation of a literary form, a process, a technique, but also the creation of a character, the work of style, the rewriting of a text, the construction of a story, etc.
If the facilitator does not have a rich and varied baggage of readings, he will not be able to lead the group very far in a literary workshop.
Entry into fiction
Fiction is the gateway to literary studio work. The facilitator can impose it in the operating rules of the workshop. Wikipedia page creation service it is not easy because some people find it difficult to enter into fiction. Some think that everything should be invented in fiction. Others think they have no imagination. Some do not have access to fiction.
In fiction, it is not a question of inventing everything or not talking about oneself, not expressing oneself. We don’t invent anything: we look, we listen to the world, we live, and we retain this or that element, which we assemble with another, in order to build a character, to move forward in a story.
The character, the story can express the thought, the joy or the suffering of the author, Writing Proposals without it being an autobiographical text. If certain passages of his text are the account of real events, the author does not have to explain. The basic principle of fiction is that the “I” of the narrator is not the “I” of the author.
Here is an example of a proposal for entering fiction:
- The facilitator reads the first two pages of the bird deaths from Adamou (the narrator is a crow throughout the novel). The instructions are as follows: you choose an animal (neither a cat nor a dog). You enter this animal, and you write with ‘I’, a text in which this animal tells a moment of its life.
In this case, you can talk about yourself, about your moods, through the animal. So it is fiction. Fictional writing has 3 sources:
Here is an example of an instruction using the realization:
- Think of three people you know (spouse, dentist, grocer,) and put them together in an imaginary situation. These people thus become the characters of the story. The narrator is one of the characters.
The work of the imagination
Writing fiction is part of the imagination. The goal is therefore to exercise the imagination. Writing Proposals The facilitator will submit writing proposals to the participants that allow them to bounce back, little by little, on any constraint.
These constraints will therefore have to be strong, in order to become more and more open. Also beware of overly open instructions that can generate blank page anxiety.
Here is an example of a fairly open and tighter set point:
- Draw the family tree of an imaginary family spanning three generations. A tighter directive would be: “This family is meeting for Christmas. Tell the story of this evening (possibly by slipping into the shoes of one of the characters present), knowing that one will have drunk too much and will start to talk too much, that another, stumbling in the wire of the roulette machine, will do drop this one, and yet another will receive a gift that was not intended for him”.
- From the same family tree, the locker will be more open if we ask: “this family is meeting for Christmas Eve. Tell us about this evening, knowing that an unforeseen event disturbed her”.
When the participants have the means to vary their characters, the places, to invent situations or to react to any proposed situation, the writing proposals make work on other issues, such as the creation of a character, the question of the narrator. Or the first steps towards the new one.
The time given to writing is also a tool to promote this imaginary work. A short time (15 minutes, for example) hardly gives the opportunity to think. The longer the writing time, the more the writer will let ideas, text and characters come in. His imagination will have time to unfold. A long time (1 hour) is closer to reality.
This writing time must be adapted, according to the groups, the work objectives and the progress of the sessions.
The question of the point of view (the narrator), the style work, the creation of characters, the dialogue, the construction of a text remain essential issues. Writing Proposals Other issues are possible: short forms, police writing, erotic writing, the short story, the alexandrine, the haiku, etc.
It is above all a question of experiencing all these issues and not of giving a course. The writing proposal should be developed in such a way as to achieve the work objective.
Here is an example:
- “You are behind a glass. You are watching a scene. There are at least two characters. You don’t hear anything. Tell what you see”.
This last proposition leads the participants to use a narrator outside the story.
The progression of a writing workshop
Any workshop must respect a progression, during each session and throughout the sessions. Writing Proposals It should be established when designing the workshop, but should always be adapted to the needs and possibilities of the group.
A long-type workshop (at least 12 sessions) will follow the following scheme:
- release, reassurance, entry into fiction
- deployment of the imagination
- storytelling tools, reading and reworking tools
- Planning, longer, more elaborate writings (short story, novel, etc.).
Use text as material
Reading texts drawn from the literary heritage is a privileged tool to arouse the desire to read, to discover new authors, to learn to look at a text differently, and therefore, inevitably, to advance in one’s own writing.
It is difficult to think of writing without reading, without worrying about what others have written, without seeking to feed on it, in one way or another. A text will be read at the start of the session to refer to it or to encourage writing. Writing Proposals It will be read during the session to influence the writing or at the end of the session to offer openings.
The facilitator will look for interesting texts to build a writing proposal.
Use images as material
The images allow you to enter a universe that is not only made up of words. These can be photos, reproductions of paintings, tarot decks, advertisements. The possibilities of exploitation are numerous.
Here is an example:
- “From the reproductions of paintings that are on the table, choose one. Imagine that this painter is not a painter, but a writer. What would he have written, rather than making this painting? ”.
Use objects as material
Objects can be used for description work, Writing Proposals for symbolic work, as triggers, as constraints, etc.
Here is an example:
- “I put a street paving stone on the table, during a first session with a group. I say “write down whatever comes to mind at the sight of this pad, in five minutes”.
Here is another example:
- “On the table, I put a calendar, a chocolate rose, a box of cereal, a brush and a cup-and-ball. I suggest you write a text that begins with ‘I would never have believed’ and in which we find these five objects”.
Using music as material
Film scores carry images, a story. Music can also give the rhythm, the structure of a text. Song lyrics, title, theme, structure can be used for writing.
Here is an example:
- “Play a little-known opera duo performed in a language unknown to the participants. Then ask them to write a dialogue inspired by this excerpt”.
Using the environment as a material
Some writing workshops allow relative mobility. It can be interesting to move around, in the city or in nature, and to use the environment for writing. It can then be a work of description, fiction or other.
The direct or concrete relationship with this environment will make it easier for participants to anchor themselves in reality, to work on the concrete of things and to use the five senses. Writing Proposals Writing also means looking differently, being attentive to everything around us.
As a conclusion
The writer, like the writer, is a craftsman of words, an athlete. He thrives in the deliberate exercise of his practice, in the attention he pays to the creative process, and not to the result.
Writing therefore requires relearning to play with possibilities, play with shapes, and play pretending … Writing Proposals Playing to meet the other, his other self, to listen to the world, to see stories everywhere.
Writing requires forgetting the lessons of literature and relearning the simplicity of the story, the logic, Writing Proposals and the pleasure of telling, the fleeting, and the emotion for the sake of emotion.