I’m preparing to run summer camps for children in a couple of week’s time. Running a creative writing workshop for children is more of a challenge than it is for adults. It’s harder to get their attention and it’s harder to hold it. And though I’d love to have the crack with the kids, the class will go better if I act like their teacher – and they secretly prefer that. But it’s always worth it, for that one child.
I’ve done classes in schools, where it was clear that the children would rather eat clay than do creative writing. At least with camps, the children are more likely to have chosen to come. But you’ll always spot the child for whom this cap means the world, the child with the soul of a writer.
This child may be quieter than the others, taking everything in while the other children chat and laugh and bounce around. They’re likely to be the sort of children who slink away from parties to read books. But what they do say will be right on the money; they’re observant and articulate. They’ll notice things that most other children and adults miss.
When these children do the writing activities, they show a real understanding of what you want them to achieve with the activity. They don’t just follow the basic instructions; they show a complete mastery of the skill you’re hoping to achieve. My workshops culminate in the children writing a story. The stories these children produce are more complete in their structure and have an extra depth and punch – a 3D effect. It’s hardly surprising. Even at the age of eight or nine, these children will often already have started writing full length pieces.
After the Workshop
When a workshop finishes, these children will sidle up to you and thank you. It won’t be the standard thank-you drilled into them by parents. Aside from the gentle swelling of my ego, it’s a very touching experience. I can only hope that my workshop has shown them that their dreams of being a writer are perfectly valid – and that they just might come true.