belonging creative writing

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  • Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences
  • English (Area of Study) (2001-2018)
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  • Focus: Belonging

'Belonging' or 'Not Belonging' creative writing ideas..

  • Thread starter lollyxb
  • Start date Nov 4, 2011

I'm doing Standard English and I really need ideas for a piece of creative writing! I am the MOST uncreative person alive. The only points I can come up with for belonging/not belonging are: + appearance + school groups + religion I need to write about something that isn’t too cliché, and something that will stand out for markers. HELP! --Lauren  


Retired Nov '14

lollyxb said: + appearance + school groups + religion Click to expand...



doing a belonging creative based solely on appearance won't let you write a story that will get you a good mark imo, it's quite a superficial topic that will be hard to go in depth with. and also stay away from school groups as well, it's extremely overdone and teachers really don't like it. have you tried looking through the belong creative writing ideas thread in the english section? you could also draw inspiration from movies and books and things you've noticed in your daily life.  


Think of anything, really. If it helps, my creative writing was about a girl who was born out of rape. Born into a family that never truly wanted her, that blames her for a sin that wasn't hers, yet is plastered on her skin. In this way it transgressed the ideal preconceived idea of what a family should provide. It always got top marks.  



Write what you know, markers can tell when you bullshit about things that you have no idea about. The best stories come from something within your own life, experiences, stories or whatever. The simpler the better.  


Don't write something like a girl trying fit in with the "popular" group or immigrants fitting into a country. Think belonging = attachment to a thing or place as well as to people. E.g. you can talk about one's strong sense of belonging to a place (e.g. a garden, a room in the house...make it specific) and then kind of give some background on why this person is attached to this place (e.g. because they use to go there with their close friend/relative etc...)  

Remember: It doesn't need to be literal - it doesn't need to be like - "I moved to a new school - must find new friends". It could be like say asylum seekers - "I left my country, my friends, my home the relaxing and refreshing culture it gave me. My family and I were escaping one of the most unfortunately countries..."  


A word of advice, considering it was on places this year, i would avoid doing one on places, because it is unlikely to come up again. But wow, your preparing creative writing now. I did mine 3 weeks before the exam.  

I would definitely say write about YOU and your own life - i'm sure your first excuse is nothing happens in your life, but think outside the box and you will come up with a good idea! I would say just lock yourself in a room, grab yourself a piece of paper and then start writing about anything even if you think the story won't go anywhere. Then come back the next day and read over the written piece of paper and this should trigger a story in your mind which you can work with. Remember I'd say most of the marks in your creative comes from unique and original ideas more than how literate you are. As a suggestion, try these ideas (again, this may be cliched but if you can give it a good twist it WILL work): -Migrating from another country --> belonging or not dis-belonging in the new country -A person getting fired from work -A person revisiting an old home Big DON'Ts: -Stay away from anything school related (i.e. schoolies, new student at school) -Violence, drugs, crime, sex etc. -Death (unless it is done in an appropriate manner) -Waking up from dreams -Fantasy, science fiction (don't think its worth the words to spend describing elaborate settings) And remember your creative writing only needs to be around 800-900 words which allows some time for adapting  

As i said above, no matter how 'boring' you think your life is, there is something there which people want to know and read about, try thinking outside the box - maybe a funny random cousin you have or some place which you visited when you were younger  


Sammy2011 said: Think of anything, really. If it helps, my creative writing was about a girl who was born out of rape. Born into a family that never truly wanted her, that blames her for a sin that wasn't hers, yet is plastered on her skin. In this way it transgressed the ideal preconceived idea of what a family should provide. It always got top marks. Click to expand...


Rubric: People, places, groups, communities, larger world, belonging through time Hopefully this'll provide a scaffold at least before you worry about the nitty gritty bits  

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Belonging or Belongings

Several years ago at a poetry festival in Galway, I heard David Dabydeen talking about the difficulty of deciding where he belonged and what form of English belonged to him. As a Guyanan of Indian descent, educated in both Guyana where he spoke creole, and Cambridge, UK where he adjusted his language, he wondered if he should write poetry in creole or in Standard English.  In his first book, Coolie Odyssey, he used both forms of English and is obviously at home in both. Significantly, although establishing himself as a writer and academic in the UK, he has been Guyana’s ambassador to China since 2010. Belonging and belongings are two useful words for writers in finding their identity and working out what’s important in their life as writers. I worked recently with Moy McCrory, a short story writer of Irish origin, who teaches at Derby University. Moy told me about a dream she had of a young girl dragging a corpse behind her. After a bit of introspection, she realised that the corpse was Ireland, and it is something that every Irish writer in the diaspora drags with them.  As a writer of Russian Jewish heritage with ties to Israel, I realised that I probably had two or three corpses in my wake. (You can find our joint article in Creative Writing and Education  ed. Graeme Harper Multilingual Matters 2015) I think the recognition of this, and maybe it is healthier to speak of roots rather than corpses, is something useful for every writer, and you don’t have to be a descendant of immigrants to find your roots. I’ve just come back from reading at the Ledbury Poetry Festival, and while I was there, took part in a John Masefield walk. Masefield left Ledbury while still a boy, went to sea, and then lived in many parts of the UK, but the west country and the sea inform a lot of his poetry. Recently, there has been an upsurge in the kind of writing that looks at urban settings and the natural world, a new or perhaps renewed genre known as psychogeography, I think here of writers like Richard Mabey and Robert Mcfarlane for the natural world, and Ian Sinclair walking round the M25. Of course your writing may not be autobiographical so you might argue that the identity of the author becomes less important. However, if you are writing fiction, it might still be significant in your choice of characters and settings, and following on from that you might want to explore how those characters regard their own identity and sense of belonging. It’s worth thinking of writers like Thomas Hardy whose fiction is imbued with his own sense of belonging to Wessex and where you could argue that the landscape or place becomes a character in the fiction; and more recently, the work of novelists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Americana where her characters are caught between their belonging to/ownership of Nigeria and/or the USA. So my recommendation is to dig for your roots and recognise that persistent corpse. Roots feed the growing plant and strangely once you recognise the corpse, it can actually be a bonus. I’ll end by offering a stimulus poem which can prompt your own poem or piece of fiction. I’ve used it a lot across all age ranges in workshops and it never fails to produce effective poems and stories in response. It’s called The  Leaving by Clare Crossman (and I have her permission for it to be reproduced.) Liz Cashdan. OCA Tutor and Assessor   The Leaving   In case we never return: I am taking a jar of rain. Bottled at source from butts and puddles in early May.   Some things green: seeds of mustard and cress, moss coloured wool, a piece of copper for imprinting verdigris on every surface.   The jar will lie in the cool closed suitcase and if I can’t forget, I’ll take it out. Hold the glass to my face, Let the liquid slosh its messages of storms,   heedless blackthorn blossom, blast of air on corners, taste of leaves and streams the last cold nights of spring. A warm April day patterned with sun.   A tonic of wind. An atomiser of weather. In another country, here I walk two worlds. Migrant, as others, carrying home.   Clare Crossman

3 thoughts on “ Belonging or Belongings ”

Dear Liz, Thank you for your helpful piece. It is especially welcome to me, as a student of The Art of Poetry, who is struggling to identify what is important enough to me to write about. I find it hard to find enough to say without some sense of emotional attachment. The references to published poets will, I hope, inspire me. As someone who was frequently uprooted in my youth, I have always found it hard to know where I belong. But I recognise the sense of regret in leaving which is so poignant on Clare Crossman’s poem. It is great to see rich input for those of us on the creative writing trail. I wonder why there are never (as far as I am aware), any examples of student’s work in the weekend bulletins? It would be good to read something. I am also doing Drawing 1, so find great pleasure in seeing the visual art pieces, but miss the creative writing. Any suggestions? Best wishes, Alison

Hello Alison, Submissions to the blog from writing students are very welcome but unfortunately we don’t receive many. I’ve asked on the writing forum about the possibility of students recording themselves reading their work aloud – either video or just audio – as I think it would showcase the work effectively to viewers, some of the tutors have done this but no takers from the students so far. Alternatively an extract from a longer piece or a poem could be used but I need people to send the work to me. If you or other writing students would like to be featured please email [email protected] Joanne

Fantastic post, Liz. So very true – and the poem was new to me, but it is wonderful.

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[Writing Prompt] Belonging

This week our themes are focused on characters’ needs. Today, something above a survival need, but something that is nevertheless deeply important:

Write a story about a character who desperately wants to belong

  • This can be any kind of relationship story: love, friends, family, career.
  • The character must NEED to belong so badly that they’re willing to go through hell to pursue their need.
  • Your story should take your character somewhere: will they change to fit in, or will they realise that’s too big a step for them. Will they be OK with that (in either case)?
  • Show us why your character needs to belong and how that need drives her every action.
  • Put obstacles in her way as often as possible and show us about your protagonist’s character by showing us how he/she reacts to the obstacles.

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