Creative text writing workshop INDEX:
Loesje texts are mostly written by groups and not by single individuals. Here are some instructions how you can make a creative text writing workshop with your friends. We recommend that you write in your mother tongue if it is possible. Remember that every good cook does more than just follow the recipe!
Choose a nice and comfortable room for the workshop, with a big table and enough chairs, and make sure that you also have enough paper and pens. You can invite everyone to the workshop because everyone can be creative. Coffee, tea and cookies are also a tip for the atmosphere of the workshop. Between 4-10 people is a good group size. Start all together and try not to have people dropping in after a while. It’s also nice to sit where you won’t be disturbed.
If there are people who don’t know Loesje or who haven’t taken part in any Loesje workshop before, explain a bit about it. You can tell about the different parts it will consist of (warming up, breaks, collecting of themes, writing, circling).
We use this phase to kick-start our creativity and to show the workshop participants that they are creative. There is no such thing as “too weird” or “too crazy” for what can come up in the warming-up games. This is also a good time to build up an open atmosphere in the group.
Here are some examples of warming-up games:
- Story with three words
The goal of this game is to make up a story with a randomly chosen group of words. Everyone gets a white sheet of paper where they write the first word that comes into their heads on the left upper side of the paper. Then, they pass it to the person on their right and that person writes another word (beneath the first), which is a free association to the previous one. You keep on passing the paper and writing words, which you associate with the last one on the paper, until you have about 10 words. Then, every person circles 3 words that they like best, on the paper they have in front of them and they pass the paper again. This time, they write the name of a famous person, on the right side of the paper, before passing the paper again, then, the name of a kitchen tool and finally, the
name of a place.
Using the three circled words, each participant has to make up a story that involves the famous person, on the chosen place using the kitchen tool.
After the group has finished writing, read (some of) the stories. Always ask for volunteers and if no one wants to start, do it yourself. If some person(s) take a lot longer than the rest to get finished, it can be good to at one point say “let’s write for a few minutes more” and then get on with the workshop.
- Collective poem
The goal is to, all together, create a poem. After giving everyone a white sheet of paper, you tell them to write the title of the poem on the top of the page. Then, they fold the paper horizontally (immediately after what they wrote), and pass it to the person on their right. This person writes the first line of the poem (without knowing anything about the title) and folds the paper again, but this time writes on the visible part of the paper, the last word that he/she has written, and passes it to the person on his/her right. This third person writes another line of the poem and folds the paper. On the visible part should be written the word that the first person wrote and the last word of the second line of the poem.
The fourth person to write has to make his line rhyme with one of the words written on the visible side of the paper. Then, s/he replaces the last word chosen, for the word that it rhymes with, writes the 2 words on the visible part of the paper, after folding it, and passes it to the right. This continues until you think the poem is long enough (maybe 8 lines).
It is probably fun to read the poems out loud. Again, if everyone is too shy to start, maybe you can be the first one to read the poem you have in front of you.
The goal of this exercise is to show how different sentences you can make with more or less the same words. The exercise also practically shows techniques how to make a good Loesje text. It’s recommended to do the hulkie-kulkie, maybe after another short warming up exercise.
You give each person the assignment to write one sentence on a paper, for instance in the form of a saying (“rather one bird free than ten in a cage”). It doesn’t have to make sense or be their own opinion. Each person after this passes the paper on to their right. The next person should turn the saying into a question. More or less the same words should be included, but you can also change and add things. The papers get passed on again and the third person should turn the question into its opposite (now it doesn’t have to be a question anymore). You all pass the papers again, and the next person makes the third sentence as strong or exaggerated as s/he can. Now you each have four sentences and can read out how they developed through the different assignments.
Loesje uses something called “ACCESS”, which stands for Associate, Contradict, Compare, Exaggerate, Stimulate and Suggest, when she makes the texts that end up on posters. You can choose a few of the below to use in the hulkie-kulkie exercise and later when writing about the themes.
Think of as many words and ideas possible that relate to the topic. What are the words connotations? What feelings does it provoke in you? What does the word mean to you?
Look for a contradiction to the subject that you are writing about. Make aspects that are considered weak, strong and the other way around.
Compare something that is new to you (and others), with something that is well known. That might help to clarify the meaning or consequences of the topic.
Make the subject, or the things it implies, bigger/stronger. You can do this by using strong words, or by boiling it down to its core.
Motivate others to take action, stimulate them for adventure and show them how rewarding doing something unusual might be.
Making people see things in a different way is always nicer than telling them what to do. So, make people think about what they read and about what it implies.
In general, the rules of each game are only a guidance, and the participants can’t really do anything wrong and should be encouraged to rather be anarchistic about the rules than to follow them slavishly.
After the warming-up, it is time to choose the subjects that you are going to write about. You can ask people if there is something that has been on their minds and that they want to write about, or you can talk about the latest news. Posters are made about topics that concern the persons involved and they are a way of reflecting about the world and of changing disappointment into initiative. So, you can write about anything and the first rule is “there are no rules”.
You can collect the ideas while doing “brainstorming”. This is the most famous method to get to new ideas. What everyone does is just to express their thoughts and associations, either on paper or out loud. When you do this, try to collect as many ideas as possible; the chance then gets higher to get more that you will want to use. Don’t criticize an idea that seems nonsense, you might get surprised… criticism is a great enemy to creativity.
Make sure not to have topics that are too identical and don’t forget to turn what is bothering people, into an inspiring subject. One tip is to not take too wide topics: the War in Iraq is easier to associate to, than just War, for example.
You can ask people to write each subject on the top of one sheet of paper, so that all papers have one subject each when you start writing. You can have 2 or 3 subjects per person.
Now it is time to explain to the group that they can write whatever comes to their mind. Emphasize that this is a group process, that you don’t have to write a “Loesje poster” immediately, because it is important to let yourself be influenced by the others’ ideas. It is OK to just write a word, or an idea, as well as it is OK to write what could already become a Loesje poster. There are just two “rules”; don’t keep one paper too long and fill the whole paper yourself, and don’t cross things out (even your own) or write a negative comment. The reason why we make the workshops in a group is to be inspired by others. Let yourself be inspired, even by your own weird thoughts.
It is not obligatory that everyone writes on each subject and drawing is also “allowed”. Just express yourself and encourage the others to do the same. You can react on what the others have written, writing questions, quotes, anecdotes, but we don’t think it is helpful to have “yes” or “no” reactions or to be merely critical.
When you think you are finished with one subject, pass it to the person on your right.
It’s useful that you pay attention to that the order of the papers stays the same, so that everyone can write on every subject. When you have a paper with a topic in front of you, write down your thoughts, look to what the others have written. Does it give you any other ideas? Do you still remember ACCESS? Make sure that everyone has had all the papers at least once and stop when you think that people are soon becoming tired (usually after the first round of the papers).
You need colour pens for this final part of the workshop. Let everyone choose a colour and ask them to go through the papers again, this time
to circle the texts they would like to become Loesje texts. They can choose more than one (or none) on e
ach subject and also feel free to circle their own texts.
Now that you are reading the texts again, you might want to change something; in that case, just write it down. In the end you can see that the texts that have been circled with more colours, are the most popular.
If there is still time and if people are not so tired, you can read out loud the most circled texts, and you can all comment them (or just smile).
Explain that the most circled proposals are gathered and submitted to a vote.
The ones selected go through the final editing (the selection process where the texts are chosen that will become Loesje posters) and are lay outed. Loesje International can help you with it, after you and your group have created the texts.
Get some feedback from the participants. How did they feel? Did they enjoy? Would they like to do it again? And thank them for coming! You can also ask wether they would like to receive the lay outed series and to go sticking.
Finally, we just want to tell you that Loesje makes about 5 texts from every workshop and a workshop takes approximately 2-3 hours. So, is it time for you to get started?