Write With Me Wednesdays: Create Your Writing Territories


(Click Here If You Prefer the Podcast)

Writing lesson teaching ideas research

Directions:  Respond to the following prompts to create your writing territories.  Perhaps you want to copy and paste these prompts into your blog and post your responses.  If you use this activity for your writing, I invite you to leave your blog address via a comment to this post.

  1. Make a list of topics you know a lot about, or if that puts too much pressure on you, make a list of things you know something about.
  2. List the main parts and/or roles in your life.  For example, I’m a professor, a novelist, a husband, a father, a runner, and much more.
  3. Make a list of places you know well.
  4. What are you working on right now?  What projects/work do you have going that might make for good writing topics?
  5. Make a list of topics that you wish you knew more about, or list some things you’d like to be trained in.  You could go out and learn (maybe interview others) and bring the news of your learning back to your audience.
  6. Do a sample schedule of your life.  Try out a weekday, a weekend, summertime, or a holiday.  At 8:00 a.m. you….  And then you…  The idea is that there are topics buried everywhere in each minute of your life.  You just need to be on the lookout for them.
  7. List some political/social issues relevant to your life.

So You Created the Territories, Now What?

  1. Look over the words and phrases you’ve listed and use them to come up with projects for writing.  You might see something that reminds you of a story or you might find a word or phrase that triggers an idea for what you can tell your readers about.  If it’s something you want to know (Why do I keep ending up in these relationships or how do I enter a film in a festival?) then you can take your readers on a journey with you.
  2. Do you want to post your writing territories?  You could explain that you are going to write along with us and that you are posting your writing territories as a blog post.  You could also probably post them as a comment to this post.
  3. After completing the territories, I’d love it if you would post a reflection as comment here about how the activity went for you.
  4. You might want to just jump right to the writing. I suggest that you tell us a story or tell us about one of the words or phrases that you have listed while responding to the prompts.
  5. If you’ve already got a project underway, (as I do) then post an excerpt from that work on your blog and show how it comes out of your territories.  I plan to post something that comes from my writing territories next Monday, November 21, 2011.
Access the handout here.

Read or Overheard: Golden Lines From the Past Week

…all your facts are probably slightly polluted by your theories.

Peter Elbow in The Teacherless Writing Class

My student Eileen Gill writes about her hometown of Hollis:

It’s funny, because I see the Hollis that I moved to when I was six as Hollis in its purest form.  And I’m terrified that this friend of mine will one day be unrecognizable. But to people like Dick Walker, this travesty has already occurred.  I guess it’s an endless cycle–the world continues to change and there’s no way we can stop it or go back to the way things were in the past. I don’t know what to think about it, but it sort of makes me sad.

from the Hollis, NH website

Nicholas Carr describes what the internet is doing to our brains and writes…

When a ditch digger trades his shovel for a backhoe, his arm muscles weaken as his efficiency increases.  A similar trade off may well take place as we automate the work of the mind.

Hope you’ll check out my post next Wednesday whenI invite you to respond to a list of prompts in order to create your writing territories.

Write With Me Wednesdays: The Proposal

Here’s the plan:  for an undetermined stretch of Wednesdays (how long can I keep it going and do any of you care?) I’m going to try and share some element of my teaching that invites some writing on your part.  I’m going to start with a listing activity I call writing territories.  From those territories you’ll tell me ABOUT one of the words or phrases you’ve listed, or you’ll tell a STORY that comes from the territories.  From there we’ll work into some experiments trying all sorts of strategies for writing first sentences.  It’s an activity connected to the idea that some of our best teachers can be the texts that surround us.  I call these mentor texts.

William Torgerson Love on the Big Screen Torg Write With Me Wednesdays

Below you’ll find the video version of this blog post, and once I get to a spot where it makes sense to post a handout (perhaps to be used by a teacher in a classroom) I’ll make that available to you on my website at TheTorg.Com.

Next Wednesday Nov. 16th,  I’ll post the writing territories and invite you to post your responses to the prompts on your own blog.  Once you have that up, you can leave a comment to my blog post and link us up to your answers, perhaps with a brief summary or reflection of how the activity worked.  If don’t have a blog and want to set one up, I have a tutorial video here.  Of course all you have to do is ask Google, “How do I set up a WordPress blog?” and you’ll have more help than you know what to do with.

These Write With Me Wednesdays won’t be just me telling you how I teach.  I hope you’ll critique or otherwise add to how these activities might work for a variety of purposes.  I suspect those who might be willing to give this a try will be those who want to write, perhaps some bloggers I’ve met in the past year attending two Blogworld New Media Expo Conferences, and also teachers who teach writing and those who are looking to collaborate with other writers and teachers on the craft of their work.

What do you think?  Are you up for this?  Suggestions for my plan?