When people ask why I started Creative Write-it, I usually say it’s for the kid version of me who loved writing, and wished for a special place to go to 'be a writer' with other kids, guided by professional writers. To share the joy, fun, and challenge of tackling a single prompt and seeing it sprout into completely different stories depending on who was holding the pencil. To share the words that poured out from my imagination with more than my teacher and parents. To feel like I was getting better, stronger, and braver with my words and ideas. To make ‘real’ books (not just stapled-together paper stolen from Dad’s printer). Creative Write-it’s programs and spaces have been built around these basic ideas from the beginning, in late 2011.
But the truth is, Creative Write-it also exists for the teen version of me who, without any writing-specific mentors, wrote anyway: short stories, poems, songs, diary entries, letters. Most of these are hidden in a box, deep in a cupboard somewhere, probably never to see the light of day again ... but that’s not the point. The point is that it was all practice: these years of writing helped me find my voice, and every one of those pieces was fuelled by thoughts and emotions I needed to express at the time. Often I didn’t even realise this until I read back over what I’d written and recognised that what had been a messy, teen-angsty puddle inside of me now made more sense on the page, outside of me. Writing on my own definitely helped me to express myself as I got older. I have no doubt that having professional guidance and feedback through that time would have helped me more.
These kids may not grow up to be professional, or even hobbyist, writers. But they will need critical and creative thinking. They will need to be able to look at a problem and work out what to do, with the resources they have at the time. They will need to translate their thoughts and feelings into words others can understand, and also try to understand the translating attempts of others. They will need to forge new paths when none of the existing options feel right. And it will help if they can laugh and enjoy the process of all of this as much, if not more, than the end results.
Writing creatively teaches us to appreciate the joy, mystery, freedom, and roadblocks of the first draft; to know when to push through to the ‘the end’, and when to take a break from a story that just isn’t working. It allows us to feel the satisfaction of the final draft, and all of the tedious but necessary shuffling, deleting, re-writing, and editing in between. All of this is valuable far beyond our writing notebooks.
We are guiding young writers. We are helping them to craft wonderful, bizarre, sweet, hilarious, gross, ‘them’ stories. But mostly, my hope is that through taking the time to get to know them and continually tailoring activities accordingly, we are inspiring and encouraging brave, thoughtful, creative people. People we see realising every day that they can do more than they thought they could when we first met them.
As Creative Write-it grows steadily with the support of parents, teachers, and the wider community – and of course with the continuing enthusiasm and willingness to try from our young writers – our reasons for doing what we do stands as strong as the day we started. I believe in the value of creative writing and our workshops for six year olds, sixteen year olds, twenty-six year olds and beyond. I believe that while we focus on stories, the value of the experience we provide stretches far beyond that. At the very least, we will help every young person who walks through our doors to be a better writer. At the most, we will build their confidence, cultivate connection, encourage respectful self-expression and communication, provide a safe space, and teach them the value of creativity in a world that needs thinkers who know the joy and challenge of sharing stories now more than ever.
Want to join us? Enrolments are now open for our 2018 Summer Holiday Program, Creative Writing Clubs, Private Mentorships, and Online Mentorships. We are also taking bookings for 2018 School Programs within Victoria.
Amy Han is the Founding Director of Creative Write-it, and the author of Ru Dreaming, Breaking Jumps, and A Trip to Somewhere Else. You can read more of her writing at www.amyhan.com.au.
Where young writers (and some older ones) write.