Expansion and Contraction, or Glumping and Haiku

Convincing a group of at-risk teens that writing is not only a useful activity, but a fun one, could be a bit of a challenge, wouldn't you say?

Golden-dark-sunshine-25014-l And that was my charge at a workshop I co-lead on Monday for an organization I volunteer for, Step It Up.  The nonprofit hosts a Career Club for high schoolers, giving them practical information on job-related activities such as business site visits, resume writing, informational interviews, and writing cover and thank you letters.  After a few months of this training, they graduate to actual internship positions.

But first they have to learn to write those resumes and cover letters.  And in order to do that they need to get over their fear and hatred of writing.  Which was our goal on Monday.  We led them through a variety of creative activities (anagrams, how many images can you draw in the circles, etc.) to loosen them up and then got to the writing.

Here was the brilliance (it was my co-leader's idea, so I can say that) of it: in order to illustrate the writing process, first we had them glump, then we had them write Haiku.  Thus showing how the initial step is to put everything out on the page in one glorious brain dump, and the second step is to fit it into a specific structure, such as a Haiku.  Expansion and contraction. We had them free-write on one career-related word of their choice, and then compose a Haiku using that same word.

I started thinking how useful an exercise this two-step process could be for writers, to loosen yourself up and get the juices flowing.  Try it:

1.  Glump.  Set a timer, use a prompt or a word, and write.  Keep that hand moving across the page. Don't censor yourself or even think very much.

2. Review.  This is an optional step, but it can be helpful to go through your glump and highlight sentences, words or phrases you like.

3.  Write a Haiku.  Take the same prompt or word and write a Haiku about it.  As a refresher, a Haiku is a three-line poem.  First line is 5 syllables, second line is 7, third line is 5 again. 

The great thing about Haikus is that they can be lyrical and descriptive, or silly and fun.  I once had a weeks-long email exchange with my wonderful friend Suzanne, in which we entertained ourselves by writing only in Haiku. 

So try it and let me know how it works out for you.  Leave a Haiku in the comments if you feel so inspired.

And remember, if writing Haiku fails to inspire you, my Get Your Writing in Gear sessions are on special through the month of March


Photo by Ayla87, from Everystockphoto.

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house insulationDokemionCharlotte Rains DixonSuzannePatrick Ross Recent comment authors
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Charlotte Dixon

Hey J.D., It is a great group and I actually like working with teenagers. I love your Haiku! Can’t believe you’ve never written one before, its so good.


Charlotte, that sounds like a great organization. I commend you for helping out. I’ve never tried Haiku. A member of my writer’s group was into it. Maybe that’s therapeutic, reducing movements of your life to a few syllables.

The turbulent lake
can’t recall it’s sunny calm.
My heart’s backward eye.

Patrick Ross

How fun, Charlotte! I think it’s great that you do this, and it’s good to see the return of the word “glump.”


Charlotte Dixon

Patrick, I almost didn’t use the word “glump” because not everyone knows what it means. But, its my word and I really like it so I used it. And so I’m glad you appreciate it!


glumping idea
sounds fun, yet not as good as
haiku expression

thrilling happiness
named in blog of famed writer
charlotte rains dixon

p.s. haiku by
J.D. moving, thoughtful, deep
consider career

Charlotte Rains Dixon

Oh Suzanne, I miss
The days when we emailed in
Haiku. So much fun.

Thanks for your loyal
Reading of my blog. I think
You should start one too.

I agree, J.D.
Is poet doesn’t know it,
When comes to Haiku


Fantastic contents. Thanks for sharing this to us. In a cover letter to an employment agency or executive search firm, you should always mention your current or most recent salary, as well as your willingness to relocate for a position.


house insulation

How fun, Charlotte! I think it’s excellent that you do this, and it’s excellent to see the come back of the phrase “glump.”

Charlotte Dixon

Thanks so much.  And glump is my favorite word!