1. Introduction to Your Creative Writing Workshop

(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!)

Summary

Today is about building trust, ownership, and community in our workshop. It’s about establishing who we are as humans/writers/a group and why we write. This is our chance to set the tone.

 

Today’s goal

Write about you. [Who are you? Why do you write?]

 

Target exercise ideas

  • To go deep, students have to get vulnerable, and that takes norming and boundaries. Do the target circle exercise together to establish the culture of your workshop—then use it in all the weeks that follow! Build on it, point back to it, use it as a reminder. Watch this how-to video from our former executive director, Jo Dasher:
  • Another way to get ideas going for norming your workshop space is to let kids respond to scenarios, such as: “When we have an idea, but don’t feel comfortable sharing it out loud, we can”; “When someone says something that we appreciate, we can”. Find lots more options near the end of this resource library from Facing History and Ourselves.
  • What do you want to know about your kids? Use today as way to find answers to these questions. What interests them? What do they want write about in Deep? Make these these ice-breakers. Get moving! Stand up and toss a squishy ball or stuffed animal to each person as they answer.
  • Consider putting a writing quote on the board each week to get everyone’s head in a writing space.
  • Why do you write? On slips of paper, each contribute a line that begins with “I write…”, shuffle papers and distribute anonymously, read as a group to form a collective whole.
  • For reference, check out Cure for IDK, pg. 21, 161, 166.

Reading ideas:

Something autobiographical.

 

Writing prompt ideas

  • A: Write about your name like Esperanza did. Where did your name come from? How do you like to be called? Do you think it fits you? Why/not? If you could name yourself, what would you pick and why? What does it sound like?
  • B: Why do you write? What do you want your writing to do for you? your readers? What do you want to get out of Deep? What do you hope Deep will be?
  • C: Write a recipe for yourself. What “ingredients”(personality traits, favorite things, habits—good and bad–, family members, physical attributes, etc) are needed to make you? What should be avoided? Added? How will the maker know when it’s just right? Give specific instructions!

 

Sharing/performance ideas

  • Since this is your first week together, consider asking everyone share. You’ll probably have time for just one line from everyone. Share your own writing (done outside of workshop time), too, to show you have equal buy-in and are willing to take the same risk you’re asking your kids to take.
  • If you run out of sharing time, start with it next week. Sharing is really important for building your group’s sense of community.