I wanted to share about a new program I started up this year for teens and tweens. Shortly after I started working at my library, I discovered that there were a handful of kids interested in writing, which got my wheels turning… I was one of those nerdy writer kids and still daydream about maybe one day getting paid to be a nerdy writer adult.
I have been writing stories ever since I can remember. When I got caught up in a story, I could get lost writing for hours. I would bring my notebook with me everywhere. Rosy, a dog-loving kid with a pageboy haircut, is the first main character I can remember (and yes, it was Rosy not Rosie. I remember getting real upset when a friend of mine went through my notebook and “fixed” Rosy’s name by crossing out the ‘y’ and replacing it with an ‘ie’ everywhere it was mentioned). Once I got to middle school I focused on teeny-bopper dramas in comic form. Mostly I wrote a recurring strip called ‘Yo-Jay’ because the main characters were named Yolanda and Jayme. At one point, several of my friends were reading it and constantly hustling me for the next installment. Scribbling away at Yo-Jay, tucked not-so-subtly beneath my math or science book was one of the highlights of my middle school and early high school years. I took some fiction writing classes in college and wrote a few things I’m pretty proud of (but mostly things I’m embarrassed to read now). I guess what I’m saying is that I would have loved a monthly writing group when I was a kid, and am pretty excited to be able to offer one to the teens and tweens at my library.
Late last year, I partnered with a local author to provide a three week writing workshop for grades 5-12. This was my way of kind of “testing the waters” to see what the level of interest was before I attempted to start a regular writing group. It was a huge success! So I polled the attendees of those workshops to see what the best day/time would be for a monthly writing group and last month we had our first meeting.
You guys, ELEVEN kids showed up. That’s a pretty big number for our small-medium sized library! Especially for a program that doesn’t have the words “Candy” or “Science” or “LEGO” in it! Here’s what we did:
- Intros: What’s your name? What grade are you in? What do you like to read/write?
- Discuss what we want from the group: More/less structure? Sharing our work and receiving feedback? Writing exercises? Writing-related crafts? (The answer to all of these questions was: YES. I have a pretty enthusiastic crew)
- Brainstorm names for our group because “Teen/Tween Writing Group” is kind of a mouthful. And kind of lame. So far, the most popular idea has been “The Writing Ninjas” but we’ll vote on a name at our next meeting.
- 10 minute writing exercise: Three writing prompts were written on the board and I let the kids choose one and write for ten minutes, then share with the group if they wanted to.
Towards the end of the meeting, I shared a state-wide writing competition opportunity with them. I plan to continue keeping them up-to-date with opportunities for submitting their work and will make myself available to give feedback on their submissions if they want. I sent them home with an optional writing exercise from The Write-Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer. Speaking of, here are my favorite books for getting those creative juices flowing:
The Write-Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer
The Young Writer’s Companion by Sarah Ellis
The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing by Monica Wood
The next meeting is this week. I can’t wait to see these kids again and become inspired by their endless creativity and enthusiasm. And who knows? Maybe I’ll still become the famous writer my childhood heart longed to be.