Give a kid a blank page, and watch them go

My brother and I have just released our first creative writing workbook into the world. This is the first workbook in a series of workbooks designed to get kids writing creatively, as in writing down something in an imaginative way, a way that is all their own and that is more about how they are writing than what they are writing. The three follow-up workbooks will all have lined pages, BUT the first workbook, titledWrite Something. a course in creative writing for kids, includes twenty-six writing inspirations for kids, and absolutely NO LINED PAGES. I know that sounds like crazy talk, and believe me, we put a lot, lot, lot of thought into this decision. I have kids, and I kind of remember being a kid, and I KNOW that pages without lines often lead to drooping lines and sometimes even frustration, BUT I also know that a fresh, white sheet of unlined paper also leads to greatness…because when a kid has the freedom to use the paper as they wish, they often go a little deeper into their imagination. They often let themselves write a story in the shape of a house, or draw a masterpiece right in the middle of a fantastic sentence, and they often feel more ownership of their story, of their work of art, because they were free to decide just what to do with the paper and how to do it. And ya know, there can be something a little intimidating (or a lot intimidating) about a page full of lines, especially to a brand new writer (and I mean a new creative writer as well as a person to whom handWRITING is even new). The lines can seem to stand there staring back at you, saying, “You sure have a lot of lines to fill up on this page.” And it can be an awful thing to some writers (uh….me….) to have a finished story, sitting there on the page with empty lines following it. That just seems wrong, ya know. OR, for those future novelists out there, lines can be frustrating because there are two FEW of them. There’s just never the right amount of lines, it seems. So, in this first workbook we have created, there is none of that. There’s just empty pages, ready to be used however the young writer sees fit after they read through or listen to the inspirations provided.

Whether or not your young writer is working through our workbook, I clearly think a blank page can be a wonderful thing. Give it a try, and if it doesn’t work out, if you have a cool little rule-follower who just wants LINES, then that’s great, too. And then I say this: Hand a kid a ruler and let them draw their own lines, in their perfect spacing and amount. That is a kind of creativity, too.