I attended my first writing class in 2011. On a Saturday morning, we would meet in a craft shop.
For two hours, with a cup of tea in the middle, the leader would give us exercises to complete. She might provide a sentence, or five randomly-chosen words, or even a photograph. Our challenge was to write a passage inspired by that prompt and share it with the group. It’s understood that this is a draft, not a finished product.
Over the next few years, our class moved from the craft shop to different cafes in town. At one point, we were even able to use a private dining room in a four-star hotel.
The type of exercises, however, remained similar: here’s a prompt, go and pen something. It’s a format I enjoy because it encourages the writer to make decisions and solve problems quickly. I think this has made me a better writer, just as actors take part in improv classes to help their skills along.
I’ve recently taken the opportunity to revisit this type of practice. Under the banner Poetry in Turbulent Times, Imogen Stirling is running a weekly class via Zoom.
One particular area of focus is a concept I knew little about: the kenning, using two words where only one would normally appear. The run is currently scheduled for four weeks, but if it’s extended, I’m interested in still taking part.
Even though I’ve now had nearly a decade of experience since 2011, I find I’m still being challenged almost as much as when I was a beginner.