I think it’s important for children to see that authors are real people. They shouldn’t go around believing that only celebrities write books and that being an author is unobtainable.
That’s one of the reasons why I started my writing club in 2017.
Another was that I wanted to give children the opportunity to write freely, without the constraints of grammar – I had noticed that a lot more emphasis is put on grammar in the curriculum these days and whilst I don’t disagree with it, I do feel it becomes a barrier to writing. What I have seen time and again is children reluctant to write because they fear they will get it wrong.
And writing shouldn’t be like that. It is a form of expression, first and foremost, and this is one of the things I wanted the children who came to my groups to realise.
Having had reluctant readers amongst my flock, I also wanted to encourage a love of stories because I believe reading and writing are intrinsically linked by the power of story. I hoped that the children seeing I am a published author would also inspire them. Not all of them know when they come to my classes and when they find out, their eyes usually go wide, followed by a “What! You actually wrote that!”
As I said, the job of an author seems somewhat mystical to children, but it shouldn’t be. Perhaps meeting a ‘normal’ person who writes books can help them see that.
The Storymakers Club attracts parents of children who love to write. They like the idea of their child working with an author to foster their talent and passion for writing. At the same time, it attracts parents who have reluctant writers because they hope by coming to my sessions, they can see writing in a different light.
There is no right or wrong at the Storymakers Club. You come along, you join in the activities, you listen to what others have written and you read out your work, if you want to. Either way, you are inspired by your peers, but never mocked. You practise different styles of writing and you improve because you practise.
For anyone who does want to work on spelling and grammar, they come to my workshops, or they work one on one with me. I do that frequently too.
I hope that my passion for writing comes through in what I do. If I don’t reach children through my books, I hope I can reach them through my writing club, for it is extremely important to me. I was a bookworm from a young age and the books I read during my early independent years have had a huge influence on me as a reader and a writer. It was the main reason I wanted to write for the middle-grade age group. And for over three years, I’ve had the privilege of working with children of this age, with any luck, inspiring the next generation of writers too!
If you’re interested in learning more, please pop along to the Storymakers website.