Writing Marathon

Welcome to the
Writing Marathon
A writing marathon is a chance for you to travel about with a small
writing group to do what we love, but often neglect in our daily
lives—we get to WRITE.
For the full article on writing marathons, go to
(Or just Google “writing marathon Louth.”)
“How many of us, as teachers, can live the writer’s life? For me,
the writing marathon was my first taste of what it would really feel
like to be a writer. It was the very first moment I ever thought,
‘Damn, I am a writer.’”
--Beth Calloway, 1996
Warming Up
All good marathons begin with some warm-ups
and stretching. We’ll do three short prompts,
each in a style that can be repeated today out in
“the field,” because…
Morrill Hall:
The worker paused for a short break. He
climbed off the machine, and in the rubble, he
Philip Levine and Capturing
Paraphrased from p. 40 of
that book
Who do you love and what do
you want to remember about
them? Put down details,
things you might easily forget
as the years pass. The way
they smile shyly, as if afraid of
showing all their teeth. The
way they smell. The little
kindnesses they do. Capture
a recent moment you want to
remember, like Levine did
with “What Work Is.”
The Thing Poem,
Paraphrased from p. 29 of that book
Observe an object or living thing using
all of your senses. Try free-writing
your sensations and impressions
when doing so, either one sense at a
time or all at once using alternating
periods of observation and freewriting.
Draft a poem that integrates many
aspects of both the subject and the sensations it creates for
you. After detailing the object fairly objectively, allow the
poem to leap inward toward whatever lies waiting to be
discovered there. The details may begin to suggest
Nuts & Bolts
•Form a marathon writing group of 3-5 people.
•Decide where to go first.
•Decide on lengths of writing times. Usually, the early sessions
are shorter (10 minutes or so) and they get longer as the day goes
on (30 minutes or so).
•After each writing period, have a read around with no response.
Why no response?
Natalie Goldberg’s advice about writing and sharing during the
Everyone in the group agrees to commit himself or herself for the
full time. Then we make up a schedule. For example, a tenminute writing session, another ten-minute session, a fifteenminute session, two twenty-minutes sessions, and then we finish
with a half-hour round of writing. So for the first sessions, we all
write for ten minutes and then go around the room and read what
we’ve written with no comments by anyone…A pause naturally
happens after each reader, but we do not say “That was great” or
even “I know what you mean.” There is no good or bad, no praise
or criticism. We read what we have written and go on to the next
person…. What usually happens is you stop thinking: you write;
you become less and less self-conscious. Everyone is in the
same boat, and because no comments are made, you feel freer
and freer to write anything you want.
Other Assorted Rules
•If you go into a restaurant or bar, be sure to
order something.
•If anyone asks, tell them you are a writer.
•Keep in mind that you are doing this for
yourself and for nobody else. Today you
have the luxury of time to write. Enjoy it!