Creative writing exercises

Jess Moriarty, senior lecturer in the School of Language, Literature and Communication at the University of Brighton, uses creative writing exercises to help lecturers develop and become more confident with their writing.

January 10, 2008

With her colleague Maria Antoniou, she applied for funding to hold writing retreats for staff at the universities of Brighton and Sussex through the institutions' joint Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, InQbate.

For Ms Moriarty, the motivation came from her own experience, after she found that the conflicting demands on her time and the pressure to publish were making writing a chore rather than a pleasure.

"Even though I teach creative writing, I found the writing side of my job was something I left to the last minute and was motivated by deadlines," she said.

The retreats, at which participants could also work on academic papers, proved such a success that they have been awarded funding to commercialise them.

"We began by discussing our motivators for writing, talked about writer's block and discussed our experiences. Some participants were widely published, and some were new researchers. But no matter where people came from, they said the same thing: the pressure had damaged their confidence in writing," Ms Moriarty said.

Under the name Work Write Live, the two academics now offer retreats not only for lecturers but also for groups as diverse as businesspeople, students, visual artists, counsellors and community development workers.

Their approach combines creative, behavioural and technical guidance and is based on academic research into the writing process.

"Feedback suggests that, as well as helping with the writing process, our workshops constitute a holistic form of professional development. Participants value the space to reflect on their writing experiences, to engage with their creativity and to consider their future needs and plans," Ms Moriarty said.

The idea has earned the academics an award for innovation from their university.

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