Why Creative Writing?

The first creative writing course I took (that I can recall…) was in college. I always wrote on my own and did exercises here and there and knew I wanted to write since preschool, but creative writing is often just a thing for adults. After getting my masters in Creative Writing and entering the world of writers and courses and teaching writing courses, I’ve come across and taught courses for adults. That’s a pretty popular thing, adults and creative writing courses. But not as much so for kids. Why not spend more time helping these young imagination superstars write creatively, too?

We love classical education . We love it, and we use it in our homeschool, which means we are deep in the world of memorizing and facts and doing things in an ordered and exact way in many areas of education, so I think the choice to include creative writing in our kids’ education might seem a little surprising to anyone out there who knows we are classically educating our kiddos. So, why are we choosing to encourage our kids to write creatively in a home that is full of grammar (grammar as in memory work, not how we speak…)? Well, it’s simple; because kids are sponges who soak up an unspeakable amount of info every single day, yet they are also imagination superstars, and I want them to learn to work with both of these sides before they grow up to be more serious versions of themselves called grown-ups. Anyone who listens to a child’s dreams or sits and watches her children put on a play in the living room or who listens to her child’s request for a meal of all his favorite things mixed together knows that children have great imaginations, which means children have some stories to tell. So I say this: let them tell the stories, and help them to tell them in their own way and in their own time and in their own fantastical style. There will be time for restating questions, word count, spell check, and working around a rubric later – lots and lots and lots of time for that. But for now, I want to be there with a sheet of paper and a midnight blue colored pencil when a daughter has a story in her mind, and I want to sit down with her (if she wants company) and encourage her to put those ideas down on paper, so that she can share her mind with the world or with her family or just with herself. I want her to learn that her imaginings are valuable, something to be recorded and saved, and then I want to show her that they can be crafted into something amazing. I challenge all of the teachers and parents (including and especially myself!) to keep on teaching, but to also take a step back now and again and let the kids lead us to their own world, a place they make up, and to help them show that place on paper. Sometimes that will mean we are simply the person who answers the “how do you spell….” questions over and over again as the kids write, and sometimes that means we say, “if you can’t write your story quickly enough for your mind, then tell it to me, and I’ll write it down for you”, and other times that means we silently support them from the other side of the room and watch greatness happen. And then there are times when we say, “If you don’t know what to write, then how about you start with….”.

It’s a pretty cool thing to let a little creative writer take the lead, even if she doesn’t think she is a writer and doesn’t want to be one. Give it a try, and take away some of the rules. Sometimes a kid who doesn’t want to write is actually a kid who doesn’t want to write what he is being told to write or where he is being told to write it.
The first exercise in the writing workbook my brother and I created focuses on finding a good writing spot. A change of scenery can sometimes make all the difference. Move out of the classroom, or stay in the classroom and sit under the desk. Let your kid write where it works for them (within reason of course!…).
…another favorite writing spot
One favorite writing spot in our home
What I’m saying here is this: I can’t think of a reason to make kids wait for high school or even college to write creatively. Yes, there are rules for good writing and those should be followed, but first and foremost, let’s encourage our young imagination superstars to create something of their own on paper with words. Maybe they will one day be a world changing writer, and maybe they will never really love writing. But the experience of being encouraged to write creatively can help kids feel valued and teach them to express themselves and can even help them find a love of other art forms and aspects of life. Clearly, I’m excited about this, but writing with kids is just SO MUCH FUN.