We’re now on week 3 of our Young Writers’ Mentoring programme 2018/19,
which I run as part of my Patron of Writing role at Didcot Girls’ School, so it’s high time I posted an update, methinks!
I guess what impressed me most at first about my new cohort of 23 year 9 and 10 students, was their openness to inspiration as writers.
I think it’s true to say that ALL writers (poets, novelists, bloggers, life writers etc) have periods of writer’s block, when the ideas go quiet and all moments of inspiration dry up. In that situation, it’s hard not to wobble and question yourself (‘I know I wrote that great thing ONCE, but what if I’m a one-trick pony? A fake?) Out of necessity, to combat these periods, we have to develop strategies for managing these crises. Prevention is generally better than cure; for this reason I start at the beginning with my mentees, challenging them on where and how they find their ideas, as well as how, where and why they ‘store’ them.
The refreshing news is that, during our week 1 discussion on this, the group contributed a wide range of places/events/stimuli where they find inspiration, as well as a broad spectrum of methods/technology they use for storing and retaining these ideas (as and when they encounter them!) Here are a handful of their ideas, as captured in my messy whiteboard notation, around the central question: ‘where do we get our ideas?’
My particular favourites here are: memes; ideologies and role play! It was also really refreshing that ‘stuff you read’ came up; this sparked another conversation later about how necessary and significant it is for writers to read.
The discussion proved to me that young writers are more alert and open to stimuli than more mature writers. As ‘adult’ writers, somehow we have to work harder at finding and retaining fresh ideas and material. I have to admit I’m a bit jealous.
Ultimately, it’s amazing to have these discussions, and I know that increasing their awareness of their own creative process will enhance their range and productivity even further. Which is pretty exciting.