Writing Projects with Adults

Writing Projects with Adults

Creative writing is a great focus for engaging people and capturing ideas, memories and responses. Writing with family groups, older adults, mental health service users and other groups – whether or not they’re confident writers – I invite people to express and shape their own stories or experiences. Writing and sharing or publishing in some form can be a real boost to self-esteem – ‘There, I’ve made something that didn’t exist before.’

Writing Our Roots

How to write vividly and unsentimentally about family memory; how to bring lost worlds alive? Keen writers produced some really excellent writing in Writing Our Roots, a short course I taught for Writing West Midlands. We took a range of starting points, including photos and the untold stories they contain – or withhold. Click to download Rhiannon Grant’s Picture through Different Eyes, while Sarah Kay wonders about the unseen person holding the camera in The Holiday Photo by Sarah Kay (above). Food was a rich starting point too for kitchen memories, sweet or sharp: Richard Clark remembers Black Country flavours in Faggets an pays while Sarah captures family dynamics simmering in The Kitchen. More to follow, I hope!


Map of Birmingham Conversationland

Map of Birmingham Conversationland

As writer-in-residence at the Birmingham Conversations, I wanted to write a map of the city we explored through questions of ‘faith in the public square’.

Birmingham is a huge city, innit,
a body of a million of us living innit,
born and bred, or bringing worlds with innit…

…and we are deep within it, swirling
amongst a million neighbours, strangers, traffic,
like leaves and litter in an urban whirlwind.

How to keep our eyes open, live the city
as a mutual dance so all can find step with innit,
who are closed, defended or despairing,
who we disagree with, or dislike,
and still believe in collaboration innit.
That’s the purpose, innit?

More about the project here.

River Continuous poetry postcard published by Poetry on Loan

River Continuous, my poetry postcard published by Poetry on Loan

Writ in water

Watery places hold memories, of here or elsewhere. Dogpool Lane, Coldbath Road, Freezy Water… street names and place names often hold clues and traces. Where do you see or remember water flowing, where it’s meant to or where it’s seeped, where you live or where you grew up?

Watery inspiration – click here to see writing by older adults about memory and place inspired by water.

Writing in response to Islamic Calligraphy exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Writing in response to Islamic Calligraphy exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

The Art of Beautiful Writing
Women at Adderley Children’s Centre wrote about where they had learned to read and write, and in which language, on these concertina books. They chose favourite texts to decorate and share. Their work was displayed in Qalam, the Art of Beautiful Writing, an exhibition of Islamic calligraphy at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Creative writing course at Mac

Miniature books at Mac

Miniature books at Mac

‘I found your class such a safe place to grow – me and all of us – our writing.  You managed to create both private and shared spaces around us.  It was a little miracle every Monday evening’ – participant on creative writing course, Mac

Writing On and Off the Page was a year-long creative writing course at Mac. We took inspiration from the River Rea flowing alongside, from the people and the birds enjoying the park, and often we wrote outdoors in the dusk or the dark before coming indoors again to write all kinds of stories and poems in response to what we’d seen.

Graham grid

‘I Remember’ writing grid – part of the Dewey Decimal Guide to Kingstanding and Erdington, a Secret City Arts project. I used creative writing in lots of different ways to explore ways to capture reminiscence and stories. This writing grid seemed to spark lots of writing in tiny boxes which together create a glimpse of a whole life.