How it will work…

Every Tuesday morning, for 6 weeks commencing 8th September, a new writing prompt will be uploaded to a new page of the If photographs could talk section of this website! (see here for the Week 1 prompt which will be publicly available until 14th September to give you a flavour of things). Each of the writing prompts will respond to image(s) from the Heritage Collection, and encourage you to respond creatively in a range of different ways!

In order to create a sense of writing community, you will be invited every week to post your writing in the ‘comments’ section of the weekly page. This section allows you to read each other’s work, and also to comment upon it (see below for advice about how to respond constructively). Unfortunately we don’t have the capacity to provide individual weekly feedback, but Lucy will try and dip in here and there to provide general feedback and encouragement, and perhaps to share her own responses to the prompts.

At the end of the six weeks , a new video will be posted on this website with ideas for editing, some general comments on the work submitted so far, alongside an editing checklist.

In late October, all participants will be invited to submit their favourite piece of work from the project, the best of which will in turn be selected (in adult and under-18 categories) to be displayed and / or performed at the Kirkgate upon re-opening.

Who’s it for?

Everyone and anyone who feels like turning their hand to a bit of writing! You might be new to writing, or an old hand. You might be young, or old! You might be local, or farflung! No matter which of these terms applies to you, then I believe you will find stimulus here, although the challenges are probably too advanced for those aged under 10.

If you are not local, then please feel free to adapt any of the prompts provided for your own local town or village. While participants might want to do research for some of the writing exercises, there is no requirement to do so. For those who are Cockermouth based, some useful material and links can be found on the Cockermouth Heritage Group website for those who are interested in learning more:

Please note that there are a limited number of places, so best to sign-up sooner rather than later. Registration for participants is free, and closes on 11th September, at which point the prompts (including week 1) will become password protected.

How do you give feedback?

In the absence of our own capacity to provide weekly feedback, and to create a sense of writing community, we do encourage you to provide comments on each other’s work. Suggestions for this will be provided every week,but the following general guidelines might also help:

  • keep it constructive and encouraging, and remember the power of positive feedback!
  • the best feedback is specific, not general, and it helps to provide a reason too. eg ‘That image is really powerful – it enables me to really sense the place you’re describing’ is more helpful than, ‘I really like it!’
  • if you do provide feedack of a more critical nature, then keep it constructive and polite. The aim is to support the writer, not put them down. A good way of framing such feedback is by asking questions eg ‘why did you choose that title? I’m not sure it is as strong as the poem deserves.’

Will the whole world be able to read my work?

There might be some of you who would love the above to be the case, in which case of course there are many ways to make your work public! However, to reassure those who are less confident, to encourage people to post material, and also in the interests of online security, the prompts will be made private / password protected from 11th September onwards.

Please note that this project can only operate successfully on the basis of trust. Offensive work or comments upon each other’s work will not be tolerated, and anyone posting any such material will be prevented from any further participation. This project is open to young people, so please keep all writing posted online appropriate for all (eg no swearing, or other age-inappropriate material).

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