New Kiwi Women Write Their Stories

Giving a voice to Auckland's migrant women

“First Time” writing exercises 2012

     (courtesy Janet Charman)

Use these prompts as starters for a piece of writing – poetry or prose.

Exercise: First Paid Job
How I heard about it
How I got it
Why I took it
Getting ready
How I got there and back
The workplace
My boss
My co-workers
The clients or customers
What I had to do
How I spent my money
Why I stayed
Why I left

Exercise: First day at a school
Getting ready
Who took me
Where was it
My teacher/s
The other children/students
What I did
Making a friend
Coming home

Exercise: First day in New Zealand
Who met me
Where I came from
What I thought about it
Where I came to
What I thought about it
My first meal here
Trying to sleep in a strange place

Exercise: First time I felt close to nature
Where I was
What I saw/ heard/ smelled/tasted
Who else was there: human, animal, spirit
What I ate and drank
What I wore
When I remember

Other possible ‘first times’ poems?
First time somebody I knew died/got married/had a baby
First time I went on a train/plane/car/horse…
First time I gambled/went dancing/went to a play or concert/went to a sport
First time I ever stood up to a bully/ disagreed with someone powerful
First time I ever told someone what I truly thought about something important

Personal Update
Think of a short poem or story you know very well.
Rewrite it set in your own home, family, and neighborhood: with people you
know today in all the roles and experiencing the situation.

My idea: Your words
Quickly list 50 words you could use to write about a topic that interests you.
Swap you list with a partner and write about your topic using as many of the
words on their list as you can.
* To do by yourself: list fifty words on a chosen topic and use as many of them as
you can to write about something else.

Best and Worst
Describe in detail everything you wore on the worst day of your life.
Describe in detail everything you wore on the best day of your life.
Leave it to the reader to decide which day was which.

Three People
Three people, unknown to each other, meet and have a very short conversation.
Write down their first impressions of each other.

Your home becomes the home of some insects or animals you want to get rid of.
How do you manage and cope with this?

Write a note to your boss
Write a note to your boss.
In it explain a reason for your necessary and unavoidable absence from work for
a week.
In five sections write an account of what you actually do during your days ‘off’.

Describe the specific changes you would like to make to these four things:
your home, your job, your past, your future.

Stop Time
Write a poem in which you ‘stop time’ by bringing to life on the page someone or
something which has otherwise ‘gone’.

Note to a Great Grandchild
Write a short note to a great grandchild for them to open at the age you are now.
Include in it the important things you know about your Great Grandmother.

Someone you are waiting for is late.
While you are waiting impatiently for them you see something unexpected. It
will change you forever. When they arrive you do not tell the person you were
meeting. Why?


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This entry was posted on March 22, 2012 by .
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