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book-92771_640Fall is back-to-school time for many young people, but you don’t have to be young or a student to take a class. In fact, anyone can benefit from classes, no matter what the subject. That’s especially true for writers. Taking a class on art or health or business can give writers new knowledge on a topic they may have never before explored. And that new knowledge can lead to valuable expertise—and a new avenue for their writing. No matter where you live, there are plenty of places that offer classes—libraries, writing centers, universities, historical societies, and many other private and nonprofit organizations. Minnesota writers have a slew of opportunities available statewide. Here are a few worthy options to consider:

  1. University of Minnesota’s LearningLife Program. The Learning Life Program at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Continuing Education offers learning opportunities that include short classes, weekly seminars, and one-day immersions. Class subjects range from art and design to to science and the environment. There is usually a course fee, but prices are reasonable—from $15 to $160.
  2. Whole foods co-op classes.  Check with your local whole foods co-op for a listing of classes on a variety of health, cooking, and nutrition courses. These courses provide insight into healthy living and offer many hands-on opportunities for learning. Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, for example, has a variety of courses for both members and nonmembers, from gardening classes to gluten-free eating. Class size is usually limited, so be sure to enroll early.
  3. Hennepin County Library courses. Any county library will likely have a range of classes for adults on many topics, but the Hennepin County Library has an extensive listing. Depending on which library within the Hennepin County Library system you choose, classes cover everything from art to languages to knitting. Most library classes are free and open to the public.
  4. Science Museum of Minnesota’s Computer Education Center. The Science Museum of Minnesota offers over 200 courses in 80+ computer-related subjects through its Computer Education Center. If you want to learn basic computer skills, how to be effective with social media, or something more specific or complex, like JavaScript or PhotoShop, check out this listing of learning possibilities.

Along with the changing leaves, fall is a great time to switch gears. Take a class, and learn something new. You may not become an expert on the subject with just one class, but you will gain valuable knowledge that you can apply to your writing. And who knows? It may open up a whole new chapter in your writing life.

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An acrostic poem is a poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word or phrase (vertically) that the poem describes. Here’s an example of a simple acrostic poem:

Loons and laughter,

A boat, water, and sand,

Kicking back, day and night—

Except for the mosquitoes,

Summer’s perfect escape.

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I chose to write about “lakes” because it’s one of my favorite places to go in the summer. It’s a feel-good word for me and a reminder that the cold of Minnesota will soon pass.

Acrostics can do that to you—inspire you—but that’s not all.

Writing an acrostic poem is…

  • A welcome break from a writing project that
  • Can lead to more writing projects as you
  • Research and think about a subject
  • Or just unleash what’s on your mind.
  • So much more, including a useful
  • Teaching tool for children and an
  • Invigorating conversation starter,
  • Concluding, potentially, with a publishable piece.

Mostly, though, writing acrostic poetry is just plain fun.  If you’ve never written an acrostic, it’s not hard to do. Just start with a subject and write the word or words vertically. Then jot down descriptions and ideas about the subject. Next, put it all other. Use the letters of your subject along with your descriptions to tell a story. Acrostic poems don’t usually rhyme, but they do flow like poetry.

Give an acrostic poem a try—and enjoy all the benefits of this simple, inspiring activity.

Note: FanStory is accepting acrostic poems for their May Acrostic Poetry contest. Deadline is May 18, 2013.