Writing Activities

  • Finding & Writing from a New Lead

    One of the most important insights from “Shitty 1st Drafts” is the generative potential of experimenting with new leads. Students will be able to locate several potential leads in this student draft and see how writing with a different focus adds richness to the material.

  • Reverse Outlines

    While outlining before writing can stifle writing efforts, the reverse outline may help students make existing material much stronger. The “reverse” outline resembles a regular outline, which glosses or summarizes each paragraph’s main ideas. However, students make a reverse outline not to organize their future writing but to organize and expand upon writing they have…

  • List as Composition

    Understanding lists as compositions can help students better understand the shaping process we engage as we compose. I recommend doing exercises of this sort as you’re discussing effective paragraph usage. It can be grouped with Says/Does exercises, which demonstrate that most paragraphs either say or do only one thing. Use it to demonstrate that each…

  • Sondra Perl’s “Felt Sense”

    Sondra Perl built a student writing practice around the work of psychologist Eugene Gendlin’s “Felt Sense,” described as “a bodily awareness of a situation or person or event. An internal aura that encompasses everything you feel and know about the given subject at a given time—encompasses it and communicates it to you all at once…

  • Revisioning Exercise

    This exercise is meant to be combined with the “Finding & Writing from a New Lead” exercise and, ideally, with Sondra Perl’s “Felt Sense” Exercise. Introduce your students to the concept of wholescale revision using Anne Lamott’s “Shitty 1st Drafts” and the accompanying slideshow. I recommend doing “revisioning” work as a class before asking the students to…