Creative Habits and Refractive Practice
Overall goal of session
: To engage you in some group and personal practices that catalyze, facilitate, and support efforts to take initiative and generate creative, constructive change in and through research and wider engagement.
- (Creativity = constructive response in novel circumstances, which is more likely if you have more tools and themes in your tool kit.)
1. Prepare yourself for participation
- Principle 1: Participants at any session always bring a lot of knowledge about the topic of the session. So, allow that to be brought to surface and acknowledged.
- Principle 2: What you really learn from a workshop or participatory experience is what you integrate with your own concerns.
a. “I made the wrong turn 30 years ago”
- Words of a leading but near-to-retirement scientist (after a reflective workshop run by PT in Fall 2011).
b. Guided freewriting: Continue for 5 minutes where this sentence leaves off: "When I think (or feel) about the possibility that I may look back and regret the choices I make or see that I stayed too long on a certain path, what comes to mind includes..."
- Clarification: In the future, say at the end of my career... may look back and regret some choices of path taken
Freewriting is a technique that helps you clear mental space so that thoughts about an issue in question can emerge that had been below the surface of your attention—insights that you were not able, at first, to acknowledge. (Supportive Listening is another means to that end.) Elbow (1981) places Freewriting on the creative side of the necessary interplay of the creative and the critical in thinking and writing. You may wish to make Freewriting a start-of-the-day habit to warm up your research and writing.
In a Freewriting exercise, you should not take your pen off the paper. Keep writing even if you find yourself stating over and over again, "I don't know what to say." What you write will not be seen by anyone else, so do not go back to tidy up sentences, grammar, or spelling. In a guided freewriting exercise, you continue from where a sentence provided by the session facilitator leaves off (examples below). You will probably diverge from the topic, at least for a time, while you acknowledge other preoccupations. That is OK—indeed, it is another purpose of the exercise. However, if you keep writing for seven to ten minutes, you should expose some thoughts about the topic that had been below the surface of your attention.
At the start of a project
- "I would like my work on [topic X] to influence [group Y] to make changes in [situation Z]..."
- "I often/sometimes have trouble getting going until..."
- "The differences between investigating ... and investigating... might be that..."
- "There are so many aspects to my topic. I could look at... and..."
- "If I were given more background in how to analyze..., I would be better able to..."
- "From my past experience, the kinds of issues or aspects of research I tend to overlook or discount include..."
Early on in a project
- "When I think about sharing my incomplete work, what comes up is... And this means I should....."
- "It may be very premature to lay out the arguments involved in my research, but it may help me define where I am going, so let me try..."
- "Incorporating regular freewriting into my research practice is (difficult? wonderful? a not-yet-achieved ideal?)..."
- "In the next two months what I most want to see happening in my project is... What is blocking me realizing this vision is..."
- "Usually when I try to plan my work, what happens is.."
- "Some aspect of research I would like to be able to explain clearly for my project is..."
- "If I had to state a question that keeps my subject, audience and purpose most clearly in focus, I would say..."
When you begin to draft a report
- "My ideal report would lead readers to see... I would grab their attention by... and lead them through a series of steps, namely..."
Elbow, P. (1981). Writing with Power. New York: Oxford University Press.
c. Compose one statement or question about taking stock of where one is going so as to minimize chance of such regret.
d. Turn to a neighbor; discuss what you have written in c (not in b. freewriting).
e. Share some of these with the whole group.
2. Refractive Practice
“not simply continuing along previous lines”
See blog post
3. Documentation for Development
e.g., Taylor, P. and J. Szteiter (2012) Taking Yourself Seriously
- (copies for $17 from Peter or as pdf from http://bit.ly/TYS2012 or as paperback or hardcover from online booksellers)
4. Framework I: Processes of Research and Engagement
Examples of tools and processes
B. Sense-making digestion of readings
E. Strategic Personal Planning
F. Narrative Outline
G. Work In Progress Presentation
H. Varieties of Feedback
J. Self-assessment at the end
5. Framework II. Action Research Cycles and Epicycles
- emphasis on reflection & dialogue to shape the steps or phases of Action Research
6. Key Process I. Dialogue Around Written Work
aka Revise & Resubmit
7. Key Process II. Making Space for Taking Initiative In and Through Relationships
8. Framework III. Synthesis of Theory and Practice
ran out of time for the following
A practice of writing text related to your project 15-30 minutes five to seven days per week (Boice 1990, Gray n.d.). Log time spent and new words written, and, at the end of each session, note possible topics for future Daily Writing. New words is important—editing, revising, and filling in citations can be done at another time in the day. Indeed, daily writing should lead to a release of energy for other research and writing work entailed by your project.
Start Daily Writing at the very start of your project. The words you write need not ever end up in the final written product, so it does not matter if your project is unclear at the start and changes as you go on. Note, however, that Daily Writing differs from Freewriting or Cameron's (2002) "Morning Pages." Your Daily Writing words should be expository, composed as if you are presenting some points to an audience.
Cameron, J. (2002). The Artist's Way. New York: Tarcher.
Gray, T. n.d. Publish and flourish. http://www.taragray.com/workshops/publish.html (viewed 8 July 2011)
Boice, R. (1990). Professors as Writers: A Self-Help Guide to Productive Writing. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.
Take-away Issue: What support should I arrange to help me to develop creative habits and to build a tool kit of processes for research and engagement?
9. Key Process III. Taking Stock at the end of phase, activity, project...
submit on paper OR via http://bit.ly/PlusDelta
- one appreciation (plus or +) of the session
- one suggestion for something that could be developed further or changed (delta or Δ)