Writers Will Be Promptly Surprised by What They Learn About Their Craft Through this Unique Workshop

Author and educator Rita Keeley Brown will present “Prompts: Simple Writing Exercises to Unleash Creativity” at the next monthly meeting of the San Fernando Valley branch of the California Writers Club. The workshop will begin at 1 p.m., on Saturday, June 1 at the Motion Picture and TV Fund campus, 23388 Mulholland Drive in Woodland Hills, in the Saban Community Room.

Similar to the unique and popular workshop Just Write that Brown first began offering at the Calabasas Library five years ago, members and non-members will be asked to write a poem or story in approximately ten minutes based on one of four subjects that she will hand out. Each person will then read aloud what they wrote to the person next to them. They can also volunteer to read it to the entire audience if they choose. The purpose of the exercise she said “is to open and free a writer’s creative impulse.”

Brown, recently nominated by the branch as a recipient of the prestigious state Jack London Award, said it is it not unusual for first-time attendees of her workshops to be a bit hesitant to participate but that quickly gives way to a newfound self-confidence.

“The prompt exercises are presented in a non-judgmental atmosphere where ideas can freely come pouring out,” she said. “In a group setting, this exercise is not a competition. What you write is understood by all to be a rough draft, a quick print of what popped into your mind from the prompt.”

Brown finds nothing more rewarding than to find out that a prompt written at one of her workshops has been developed into a full-fledged poem or story and accepted for publication.

“Prompts are a great way to open a new door you never thought you could center. Many develop their rough writings further and have been published in magazines or blogs and some became the core of a novel,” she said. “Walt Whitman had several books of poetry published from words he jotted down while walking in the woods.”

Born in Nebraska, Brown furthered her musical education at Northwestern University and then continued on to UCLA, becoming a professional percussionist with a particular gift for the marimba, which resulted in concert solo appearances at venues that included radio and television.

Marriage, six children, and finding herself a single parent sent her back into the job market, where her talent with words opened up many compelling opportunities to help others, particularly through tutoring in a literacy program and then, as a tutor trainer.

Brown’s published works include Good Luck, Mrs. Brown, which details her family’s experiences in dealing with the mental disintegration of a loving husband and father during a time when mental health was a subject publicly taboo, and A Pawn of Fate, the biography of Chet Lee, a Chinese immigrant who was sold at the age of four. Upcoming is The Lady in the Mirror, a personal memoir of survival and self-discovery.

Editor of Cascade of Pearls, an anthology celebrating the 30th Anniversary of CWC-SFV, she also managed the WriteTeachers All-Day Workshops, which featured classes taught by writers Barbara Abercrombie, Victoria Zackheim, and renowned mystery writer Anne Perry.

Residing in the San Fernando Valley since 1962, Brown is an avid sports fan, still enjoys classical music, and drawing, and has the most loving and adorable grandchildren on the planet.

The California Writers Club welcomes writers in all genres, and at all stages of their careers. Monthly meetings are held on the first Saturday. To attend workshops, programs and other events, or to learn more about events and activities for writers in the San Fernando Valley, visit www.cwc-sfv.org.

Non-members who attend the monthly meeting are asked to donate $10, while students are requested to donate $5.

Rita Keeley Brown


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