I spend a lot of time extolling the virtues of free writing (the art of writing without conscious thought or judgement) to adults who either want to write but don't know where to start or who are convinced that writing is 'not their thing'.
I believe that everybody can learn to write.
That's not to say that I think everybody can become a best-selling author, of course - obviously, that's not the case - but everybody can learn to write something, whether it's for personal or business use.
Free writing is such a simple and effective tool for beating what we've always thought of as 'Writer's Block' that, after learning and practising the techniques at one of my two-hour Writing Workshops, I can virtually guarantee that you will never be stuck for something to write again.
(N.B. Writer's Block is NOT. A. THING.
It's just a convenient name for that feeling of panic you get when you are faced with a
blank page or screen. You know, that moment when you can't remember ANY words at all.
Free writing eliminates that fear and unleashes your creativity.
You won't be able to stop writing once I've finished with you.)
My current Writing Workshops are for adults, but I've have a lot of enquiries lately about whether I would think about running them for children as well. Well, yes - I would!
No matter how inspirational your child's English teacher may be, they are always going to be bound by the rules that the Department for Education insist on, with massive importance given to correct grammar, punctuation, syntax and spelling etc.
I don't disagree with teaching them that (you gotta know the rules before you can break 'em and all that) - it's more that focusing on that stuff when you're writing is a huge blocker to creativity. What I'd like to see is sessions devoted to encouraging children to simply get their ideas down on paper (and free writing would be a great skill to teach them for that purpose) and then another session entirely for them to learn how to edit their work.
That's when they can be taught all that semi-colon/conjunction words/its/it's business.
And yes, before you ask...I am the kind of person who tuts when they see a sign outside a shop advertising:
Vinyl, Tapes & CD'S or Repairs, Servicing & MOT'S
(If I were Minister for Schools I would ensure that educational institutions dedicated at least 5% of the curriculum to teaching people what to do with words written in capital letters that need to be pluralised.)
My seven year old son loves writing and willingly does it all the time (at home I completely encourage him to write without worrying about 'the rules') but I know that lots of children find that the pressure of trying to write perfectly in school can make it too difficult for them to come up with original ideas. This can lead to them not wanting to write for their own pleasure or worse still, thinking that they can't write at all.
I want to show these kids exactly what I show my adult workshop participants: that everybody can be creative and imaginative in their writing once they know how to remove all those pesky barriers that hold them back.
So, I am at the beginning stages of developing a free writing workshop for children of primary school age (7-11). I'm looking forward to coming up with some fun prompts and exercises that will encourage wild and wonderful prose and I'm looking forward to seeing their faces when I tell them that they don't have to worry about whether they should use their, they're or there!
And for futher confidence-boosting I will never look at or ask them to read out what they’ve written.
Writing can be an intensely personal thing - no matter what age you are - and knowing
that somebody else is going to be reading what you’ve come up with is yet
another pressure that can stop creativity before it starts.
I'm aiming to have my Children's Writing Workshop ready for February 2018 - on either a weekend morning or during half-term. If you think your child would benefit from attending then please register your interest via my Contact Me Page - let me know how old they are as well.
I'll post more information about it when I've decided on a venue and a date. Meanwhile, details of my adult Writing Workshops can be found HERE!
P.S. Take a look at the pictures below to see some of the lovely feedback I've received!