There is magic in the everyday – the sheen of rain on the pavement, the crackle of leaves underfoot. The following writing exercises are to get you thinking about recognising the sparkle in the mundane or re-imagining something repetitive that you might do everyday. I gave a workshop on ‘Everyday Magic’ and here are some exercises that you can do with a friend or with another writing group.
Magical names (group or paired activity)
This exercise is adapted from Elaine Walker’s ‘Who Am I’ activity detailed in Teaching Creative Writing: Practical Approaches.
The aims of this exercise are:
- to act as an icebreaker to the workshop, and,
- to act as an exercise in beginning to think about how everything is magical.
A handout for each participant with the following prompts:
- My name is:
- My name story is:
- My writing is:
- My favourite magic word/words is/are:
- If I had a personal magic spell it would…
Fill the forms individually, then swap your paper with a partner and see if you can, as Walker suggests in Teaching Creative Writing: Practical Approaches see if you can turn this into a fantasy film publicity blurb! In pairs ‘…write and read out a publicity blurb which ‘bigs up’ their partner in good Hollywood million-seller [film] style’. Could start with:
“This winter season, be amazed by…”
“The blockbuster of the season is…” etc.
The aim here, as Walker suggests is to get the group to laugh with each other – trying to create a comfortable atmosphere and cooperative writing environment.
Autumn/winter Seasonal Magic (individual or group exercise)
The aims of this exercise are
- to stimulate the senses,
- to think about using leaf litter as a writing medium,
- to emphasise with nature, and,
- to write a short piece that looks not only at the leaf but at the weather, the season and at the leaf in a new way.
- A leaf (sycamore or London plane works well),
- Dark felt tip, gel pen, or biro, and,
- Paper / your personal writing notebook.
This is about being playful with season and the senses – firstly think of the senses: touch, smell, hearing, taste, sight (and perhaps the more spooky sixth sense – the feeling of the uncanny) have a think about the first words that come to your head as you look at the leaf. Maybe choose about two for each sense (such as: brown, spiked; compost, rot etc.) then once you’ve got what you feel are the obvious connections out of the way – disregard these words! Have a think about different words for the leaf and write these onto the leaf.
Once finished, as the leaves change colour from spring to autumn you are now going to become the leaf! Using the words written on the leaf, begin a brief autobiography of you as the leaf using paper/notebook. Begin your profile with “I am”. and think about how you can empathise with the leaf and its journey from tree to pavement:
“I am tobacco stained and smell of forgotten promises. Put me to your ear and hear the memory of a song thrush, the sound of rushing wind.”
The leaf can be composted once it’s used. It’s biodegradable art.
The Chore Sorting Hat (individual or group)
- To have a go with rhyme and rhythm, and,
- To see things in a different/playful way.
- A hat with a list of chores* cut out into strips to be folded up and placed in the hat, and,
- pens and paper
* I included: ironing, washing the car, waiting in a queue, getting dressed, scrubbing the oven but you can choose your own!
Pick a chore from the hat and think about creating a magic spell that could simplify everyday tasks and what would the spell would do. Write your spell – make it rhyme if you can and use your favourite magic words – and then think about the intended outcome – if it goes wrong what happens next?
- Walker, E. (2012) ”Who am I’ icebreaker establishing a group dynamic’ in Elaine Walker (Ed) Teaching Creative Writing: Practical Approaches. Ely: Creative Writing Studies. Pp. 1 – 5.