Australia's National Prison Newspaper

Australia's National
Prison Newspaper

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About Time is the national newspaper for Australian prisons and detention facilities

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JULY 2024


JULY 2024




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The Write Ideas: Creative Writing Exercises!

By Michelle Wright

Michelle Wright is a short story writer and novelist. She takes public tours of Pentridge Prison and has run creative writing workshops over several decades.

Jan Kahanek

Writing can be a great way to express yourself, to get things out of your head and to pass the time. But writing can also be daunting: where to start? These exercises will help you get your pen to paper.

The aim is to get writing, to get ideas flowing and to get something down on paper. It can be junk! There are no expectations, no judgement, no criticism. It can be a personal experience, a creative piece, a poem, anything! It can be short, it can be long, or maybe one exercise won’t work for you and you’ll move on to the next.

If you’d like, you can do these exercises with others, and share what you’ve written after. Remember: no judgement and no criticism! The purpose of sharing is to see what others came up with, to see the variety of ways that people can respond and to perhaps be interested, intrigued or inspired by something that someone else has written. It’s also great to build confidence in yourself and your voice!

Exercise prompts!

Write a piece where all the action takes place in one defined space, such as a bedroom, a cinema or a park. It can be indoors or outdoors, but the action must stay within that one space.

Write a piece where the action takes place on a form of transport (a car, a train, a bus, a bike, a plane, a boat).

Write a piece that is about something you can hold in your hand, such as a toy, prized possession, food, piece of clothing,
a photo…

Describe a family member or friend or someone you know, but limit the number of words in the description to the age of each person. For example, your 51-year-old mother must be described in 51 words, your 23-year-old friend must be described in 23 words, your 14-year-old cousin must be described in 14 words. Don’t just write a list of words, but a description with sentences.

Write a piece where the action takes place over a specific length of time – one minute, one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year.

Write a piece where the first word is a question: Why...? What...? Who…? When…? How….? Where…? If…?

Write a piece where each sentence begins with a letter from your name.

Choose one thing in each of the following: a number between 1 and 100, a family member, a colour, an object you’d find in a kitchen, a place you’ve never been. Write them down at the top of your page. For example: 41, sister, red, plate, Perth. Now, use all these words in a piece of writing. It can be anything, a poem, a story, but it must include all the words!

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Willy Pleasance

The Road to Redemption

By Elisa

Don't follow in my footsteps

It's been no Sunday stroll

No the road to redemption

Isn't paved in gold

Jennifer Grismer

Waiting for Parole

By Nick

Waiting for parole is like remand all o'er again

When starting on my 'things-to-do', my mind leaps back to 'when!?'

All-consuming niggling thoughts contort me out of shape

Swarms of bees inside my head frantic for an escape

Years and years I've counted down now focused on just days

Yet I can't shake the fear and dread that l'Il be here always

Willy Pleasance

Darkness and Love


No matter what our pasts may say

What hurts, our pains endured,

And tears shed for those who

Walked away.

You and I, need not let ourselves

Be defined by those hurts from

Our pasts and no longer will it

Influence our time.

Markus Spiske

I'll Never Come to Prison Again

By Joseph B

If I could dress it up and say I never felt better

That I’ve got a girl at home and I’m waiting for a letter

I’d pretend the kids are fine and doing well at school

And when I phone they say they miss me

And they think their daddy’s cool