of foxes and hedgehogs

 In Emotional Intelligence in ESL classrooms

The virtual bookclub  initiative that took place during lockdown last March 2020 stands up as a permanent option for advanced students this academic year. In these multidisciplinary workshops we are reading and listening to stories, discussing collateral issues, studying historical characters or events in depth. Then writing.

When writing there is one recurrent message from the participants handing in their stories retold or summarised: the students find it difficult to start writing, sometimes they have too many ideas or none at all, or they just don’t really know how to end up their compositions. They regret not being able to «recreate scenarios» or «build up characters».

They admit failing to complete their assignments even more when they are asked to freely write some lines after a given prompt, for instance, «for sale baby shoes never worn«. So I thought what I have only just found out first hand from the acknowledged Rosa Montero these days might actually help students. The starting point, dear students, is to reflect upon what type of writer you believe you could possibly be first of all.


for sale baby shoes never worn


 «Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun», Mary Low Cook


Creativity has to do with letting our inner child free. Imagination is the most natural feature in one child. Children are capable of building up the most amazing stories from nothing. Unfortunately, as we grow older with commitments and obligations, our inner child gradually vanishes in a world of conventions and control.  To  go back to making up stories and being able to create something again we must try and set our inner child free. Let their imagination fly!. It is an act of freedom in fact to open up that window and let the magic back in to inspire our inner child to write truths or lies. Stories, tales or fables. Memories, feelings, emotions. You name it.

So I do hope it helps my ESL students sitting in front of blank pages for hours running out of ideas for their written tasks, to read about an interesting classification of writers which I found the most insightful during Rosa Montero’s video lessons (organised by CEP Málaga).

What type of writer are you:

  • A hedgehog writer like Marcel Proust who always writes the same novel, actually going deeper and deeper within the same sort of story over and over again?
  • A fox writer like Rosa Montero who looks for new horizons always trying to find new ways of saying whatever she wants to put in writing?
  • A flame writer like Patricia Highsmith forever passionate and emotional?
  • A glass writer like Thomas Bernhard who shows no emotion, and is logical and intellectual?
  • A mammal writer like Leon Tolstoi who recreates childhood memories, and creates gigantic narrative constructions where we wouldn’t miss a few pages should they have not been written?.
  • An insect writer like Franz Kafka who creates rather succinct novels with little embellishment?
  • An amnesiac writer like Joseph Conrad who makes his characters pop out from nowhere, with very little detailed descriptions?
  • An architect writer like Vladimir Nabokov who believes in a well-structured masterpiece?
  •  A chronological writer like Iván Turguénev who believes in simplicity at first sight?
  •  A torrential writer like Martin Amis who completes pages and pages unnecessarily?
  • An emaciated writer like early Rosa Montero who lacks flesh creating scrawny stories?.

 Which one are you?


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