Exploring Creative Writing With Your Child
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By exploring creative writing with your child, you can help them develop critical thinking and writing skills. However, you may be surprised to learn that creative writing is about reading as much as it is about writing.
Creative writing can entail writing fiction or nonfiction. Novels, novellas, plays, short stories, memoirs, and essays are some examples. Some creative writers prefer to outline their work before writing, while others proceed more intuitively.
The intuitive process involves writing without an outline, almost with a stream of consciousness style. Once the first draft is complete, the writer goes back and restructures the work. The discussion below explores creative writing, its benefits, and how children can get involved.
What is Creative Writing?
Creative writing is the process of creating an original work of art. It can be a full-length story that details one or more characters’ journeys. Examples include novels and novellas. Novellas are a shorter version of a novel but are usually not short enough to qualify as a short story. Most novellas are about 100 to 150 pages in length. Novels tend to be 200+ pages and short stories are succinct enough to fit within a few pages of a literary magazine. Creative writing can also involve writing screenplays, scripts, and non-fiction pieces. The process of writing an original work is part inspiration, part research, and part revision. Let’s look at each of these pieces of the pie.
Creative writers can get story ideas from their experiences, the lives of people they know or interact with, and their imaginations. Writers also get ideas from things they read, including unlikely sources like obituaries and history books. Some writers will take a basic idea or hunch and run with it. They’ll start writing characters and plots based on that initial inspiration. These writers will see where it goes, allowing the work to lead them through the story. But not all writers develop their work this way. They rely on formulas and outline how the story will play out. The writers then fill in the details from there.
Even with a well-developed idea, creative writers may need to do some research to flesh out the details of the story. They might need to research a historical period or a location for accuracy. Research can include consulting books, films, and documentaries. However, research can also include traveling to a location and interviewing people with expertise or first-hand knowledge. Creative writers also read and study other works to learn techniques related to point of view, style, and story structure.
It would be great if a writer’s first draft was good to go and ready to publish. But that’s usually not the case. Revision is a later stage in the creative writing process where writers take in feedback from editors or teachers. Before writers send in their work for feedback, they usually go through the work to look for errors and structure and flow problems. Revision can sometimes result in a plot change, a new character arc, or a completely different story theme.
One piece may go through several rounds of revision before it’s ready for publication.
How Is It Beneficial?
Creative writing exercises have several benefits, including higher levels of empathy and an increased understanding of writing mechanics. Let’s delve into each of the benefits most children get from creative writing.
A Confidence Boost
Creative writing isn’t just about telling a story. It’s also about finding your unique voice and learning ways to express yourself through fictional characters. Creative writing is a chance to figure out what you have to say and how you perceive the world. Through writing, children can gain confidence in their thoughts and learn that they do have something to say. As kids keep at it, they’ll become surer of their perspectives, feelings, and thoughts.
The result will be someone who can articulate and communicate their positions confidently and persuasively.
The Ability to Think Outside the Box
Since creative writing involves making something out of nothing, it can develop a kid’s imagination chops. This helps their minds see situations from unique perspectives and come up with unconventional ideas or new ways to solve problems. As children advance through school and face more complex assignments, the ability to think outside the box will become more important. Creative writing provides the foundation and training they need to develop this skill.
Even if kids aren’t writing about situations and characters that are different from their experiences, creative writing develops empathy through reading. Learning how to write isn’t as simple as putting pen to paper.
Professional and emerging writers find they have to read a lot to fully understand their craft. Reading from other people’s world views and experiences reveals similarities and differences. It’s through others’ eyes that children start to understand and appreciate various points of view.
While some forms of writing bend and break conventional grammar rules, others don’t allow for it. Participating in creative writing skills helps children practice the ins and outs of the technical side of writing.
Once kids learn the rules and when they apply, they can learn how to manipulate them. For example, they can stick to proper grammar for academic writing and bend those rules a little for conversational pieces.
How Can Children Engage?
Children can engage with creative writing at school, at summer workshops, or at home. Things like children’s magazines showcase writing by other kids their age. They can learn by reading others’ pieces and submitting their own work for publication.
Encourage them to read
Reading is an important way to expose your children to a variety of genres and types of text. Why not take your kids along to your local library and help them to pick out a few books? Encourage them to choose books that interest them and help them discover what kinds of stories they like best. As they become more familiar with the structure of novels you could try introducing them to other text types like short stories and poems.
You should talk to your children about what they have read, allow them to tell you about their favorite characters, what they liked and didn’t like and how they found the ending. Encourage them to keep reading and repeat conversations like this as they discover new books. They’ll find the inspiration to create their own words in no time.
Expose them to lots of different experiences
There are things you can do outside of the library to explore creative writing with your child. Take them to museums, parks, movies and plays. The more of the outside world your child is exposed to, the easier it will be for them to find the inspiration to create worlds of their own. Encourage them to carry a pen and notebook when out and about so that they can jot down ideas and inspiration when it comes to them.
Make it relevant
Helping your child find topics that are related to their own life and experiences can make it easier for them to start writing. Try helping them to identify topics that they are interested in to write about. When it comes to actually starting to write you may need to give your child a helping hand. Mind maps are a great tool to help get kids thinking about them, plot and character development. You could also try writing the first sentence for your child to help get them started. Once that first hurdle has been tackled, you will likely find the rest of the words come more easily.
Important things to remember about creative writing
It’s important to remember that your child’s creative writing doesn’t have to be ‘good’. The spelling and structure doesn’t need to be perfect, especially when they are first starting out. The most important thing to keep in mind is that creative writing should be fun. You should give your child lots of encouragement to continue writing, take an active interest in what they are creating and help them to understand that there is no right or wrong way to write a story.
Writing and Reading Workshops
Writing workshops have also extended into the children’s arena. Some of these workshops are available online, and others work similarly to summer camps. They serve as mini-residencies for children interested in pursuing writing as a potential career or side gig. Most of these workshops are taught by professional writers and individuals with MFA degrees in creative writing. They might also find creative writing seminars and courses at community colleges.
Some of these courses are held over the summer as part of College for Kids’ programs. Another place to check is with your local public library. These facilities often host free reading programs and writing courses for all ages, including children.
Libraries may also have writing and reading courses that focus on young adult or YA literature.
Yet another way children can engage with creative writing is at home. This is a more self-directed path that you and your child can explore together. Exploring creative writing with your child can include reading books together and completing exercises in writing workbooks. You might also think about hiring an online or in-person tutor to help your child develop creative writing skills. Local colleges with English and creative writing students may be willing to help.
The idea of exploring creative writing with your child is one you may be contemplating. Creative writing might not seem like it’s a “marketable” or necessary skill. But written communication skills are one of the top things your child’s future employer will be looking for.
Engaging in creative writing exercises can help teach them empathy, critical thinking, and grammar. Writing exercises also teach children how to develop and assert their unique voices.
This article provides you with a new activity outside of our products in the reading app for 3rd graders, 2nd graders, 1st graders, and preschoolers…
Discover what exploring creative writing with your child can look like, its benefits, and how your child can get involved.