Presentations and Workshops for Adults

I regularly speak at writing/arts conferences, teacher conferences, and retreats. My fee depends on the event, so contact me with details and I will do my best to work with your budget. For most presentations and workshops, I need a screen and projector set up for Powerpoint. 

Playfulness, Creativity, and Bravery (45 minutes)
In this presentation, I discuss the importance of playfulness in creativity as a means of overcoming fear and inhibition in both children and adults, using examples from my creative writing classes and workshops. In the process I talk about how my own struggles with fear as a writer and artist and my long, rocky journey towards publication are mirrored in my novel Henry and the Chalk Dragon, the story of a shy child’s imagination-gone-wild and his quest for the courage to let his art loose in the world. Of special interest to parents and educators, but relevant to anyone who needs to rediscover their childlike love for creative play. 

The Music of Language (30 minutes)
Good writing pays attention to the sound of language as much as to meaning and mechanics; in fact, as the brilliant, rule-breaking poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins demonstrates, the music is part of the meaning. 

Smelling Flowers in the Dark (30 minutes)
What the novels of L. M. Montgomery (especially the Anne of Green Gables series) taught me about grief, hope, and the enchanted world we live in.

Tales of the New Creation (30 minutes)
To be able to look at the world as it is and be able to glimpse the beauty and goodness of what the world will someday become—to be able to imagine a different way of being human on this earth—takes an enormous feat of imagination. The writers whom I have most loved (like C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton, and other) give me glimpses of hope and remind me of my own role as an artist pointing towards a greater story. 

Creativity as a Spiritual Discipline (30 minutes)
Practicing regular, intentional creativity in our lives (whether we're professional artists or homemakers) is essential because it trains us to hope and it teaches us grace.    

Nurturing a Storied Imagination (15 minutes)
A brief talk on the importance of nurturing the imagination of children and how stories teach us to hope. 

Playing with Words Writing Workshop (60-90 minutes)
Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  At the heart of healthy creativity is the ability and freedom and courage to play, but this is much harder for grown-ups than it is for kids. In this workshop I incorporate some of my activities I use in teaching creative writing to children as a way of loosening up adults to be playful in the writing process. Flexible in length.

Playing with Words Teacher Workshop (60-90 minutes)
Same as above but aimed specifically at elementary and middle school teachers. Flexible in length.  

Psalms of Play Workshop (60-90 minutes)
Part creativity exercise, part experiment in playful worship, this is a writing workshop for people who are terrified of writing workshops, a quiet refuge for introverts, or a verbal sandbox for lovers of wise nonsense--take your pick. Ideal for Christian retreats. Length depends in part on the size of the group. 

The Cauldron of Stories Workshop (1 hour)
Taking a cue from J. R. R. Tolkien's concept of the "cauldron of stories," I talk about the favorite books of my childhood and how each one helped form me into the writer I am today. Includes plenty of discussion time for workshop participants to talk about the stories in their own "cauldrons" and how those literary influences might shape their writing. 

Bullet Journaling for Readers and Writers (1 hour)
An interactive slideshow and demonstration of how I use a bullet journal as a creative outlet, a therapeutic tool, a way to keep track of reading and writing projects, and a strategy for spiritual, mental, and vocational decluttering. Audience interaction and doodling highly encouraged.