For the past six months I’ve been teaching creative writing to kids in the afternoons through a non-profit organization. My groups ranged from ages seven through thirteen and I’ve learned so much about writing in general as well as my own writing by teaching these kids and giving them feedback on their work.
Writing doesn’t need be a solitary act.
As an introvert, I love writing because I have the freedom to dump all of my thoughts onto a clean slate without any judgement.
However, writing doesn’t necessarily need to be something you do by yourself. In fact, the best writing comes from working and collaborating with other people. The actual act of getting the words onto paper might be done by yourself, but revising and editing should be done with other trusted eyes and voices.
I’ve also seen some fantastic work completed by two or three kids collaborating on a story. They were able to write longer, more in depth pieces because there were multiple brains working together. Again, each kid wrote their section individually, but in the same document so they could all read it together.
A lot of the time we think or writers sitting alone in a dark room writing furiously. And while sometimes that’s the case, it’s often helpful to write with fellow writers to help you fact check your work and find holes in your story.
You’re not perfect. Don’t try to be (at least in the first draft).
Your first draft will not be perfect. Accept it. Welcome it. Allow your first draft to be a rough draft. Allow yourself a ton of room to breathe. Plant the seeds of your story, let weeds grow, let your story be overgrown and messy. You’ll have time to water the flowers, pick the weeds, mow the lawn.
So many kids worry about spelling and grammar and that really inhibits them from just letting their ideas flow into their work. When I don’t outline my story or have a clear arc already in mind, I think of my first draft as an idea dump, just to get everything down and out of my head.
Don’t force your first draft be perfect. Give yourself space, and work on perfecting your later drafts instead.
Carve out a specific time to write.
These kids would come for an hour and a half once a week to play writing games, get inspiration, work on their stories, and receive feedback. They had a ritual where they worked hard on their pieces at a specific time each week.
Now, once a week may be too little, but it’s so important to dedicate the time to focus on your writing. If you schedule writing time, you’ll start to get into the habit of writing consistently. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it.