4. Quick-draw Drafting

(This lesson comes courtesy of my time at Deep Center–if you like the lessons, please consider donating to or teaching with this awesome youth writing program!)


  • Today is about loosening up, not being perfect, and generating multiple ideas in one day. Encourage your kids to use what they’ve learned so far (revealing details and figurative language) when responding to quick prompts.
  • Today is about letting your guard down, keeping the pen moving, and letting the ideas fly! Remind your kids to trust the creative process and themselves. Their stories matter.

Today’s goal

  • Write on at least four different prompts without hesitation. One rule: Just keep your pen moving!

Target exercise ideas

  • Today is mostly about writing, so you may want to skip a target exercise to allow for more writing time. Use one of the suggested readings as a jumping off point, then get writing!
  • Some ideas for breaking up the long day of writing:
    • Use movement as a tool to get unstuck (take a lap around the room to think, stand up, stretch, shake out writing hand)
    • Allow choice as a motivator.
    • Shake things up. involve movement between prompts. Print prompts on slips of paper and get kids to stand up and walk to choose a new one.
    • Food rewards are always appreciated 🙂
    • Let kids cross off # prompts on the board.

Reading ideas

  • Since today is about writing, writing, writing, keep your reading brief. Read something short and inspiring about the creative process. You can use a reading to kick things off or mix things up in the midst of writing time.
  • A: “First Thoughts”, excerpt from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg—helps set the expectations for the day
  • B: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird excerpt, “Finding Your Voice”—write as though your parents aren’t looking

Writing prompt ideas

  • This is an opportunity to tailor-make prompts for your group’s interests.
  • Remember, a successful writing prompt implies some sort of conflict or tension to move the action forward.
  • Notice the kids who are in the zone and consider allowing them to return to/continue a particular prompt if it’s really singing to them. Let them follow their energy. Writing is the goal today.
  • For inspiration, check out this list of prompts we’ve compiled.
  • Use photos of settings and people to inspire. Let students choose from the mix and write what the picture sparks in their imagination. Write from a new point of view.

Performance/sharing ideas

  • Popcorn Sharing: Similar to an Author Circle, all authors sit in a circle and take turns at random reading a piece (or their favorite paragraph/stanza/line). After each share, don’t provide feedback, just silently hold space for anyone else who wants to share.