Stirring Up Writing Gifts In Teens Stretches Me

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I have added a new experience to my writing journey. I am teaching a creative writing class at a Christian youth camp. Enlisting the help of fellow-writer and Taylor University Creative Writing Major Erin Curtis has made the task easier. Because we are there only about an hour and a half every Tuesday, we can’t cover a lot. Neither of us had any idea how well we would be received or how interested the students would be. The first class was a seat-of-our-pants kind of thing to get a feel for the students.

Developing a plan

Together Erin and I have designed a pattern for the rest of our 6 weeks of classes we hope will be both fun and inspiring. There are no grades in this class and no mandatory homework. Our goal is to give the kids a taste of creative writing and how it can be used to help others draw closer to the Lord. We do fun warm-up-your-brain exercises and group writing assignments. Our goal with the devotions we share at the beginning of the class is to encourage the teens they have worth. Reminding them their gifts are from the Lord.

Teens have worth

In the first class one of the students made an unbelievable origami creation out of her writing exercise paper. She spoke little that class, but her creativity showed through. Our goal as instructors is not to find the next Karen Kingsley or Jerry B. Jenkins but rather to deflect the lies that the enemy brings to them that they have little worth.

Of our 13 students, one has a real desire to write. She wants to share her life experiences in hopes of helping others. At 16 she has had some pretty dramatic ones. Another young man is a writer of rap. He has filled many note books with his thoughtful rhymes. I love to see Christian kids pour out valuable messages in a form that connects and communicates to their peers.

Out of my comfort zone

Teaching writing to teens is new territory for me. I am really comfortable with teaching drama or mime, but boiling down writing to simple exercises is for me kissing the frog and turning into a toad.

Together, Erin and I are prayerfully approaching each new class time with an open heart. The teens seem to be enjoying themselves. Our desire is to see God move in their lives as they experiment with writing stories.

Making God Real

The theme for this year’s summer camp is Making God Real. As we pour out our heart to God through the written word—whether it is in a journal, a poem, a rap or a short story—we can get a deeper understanding of who God is. Erin and I will be so blessed if just one of these great kids grabs onto to more of Jesus through taking this class. If they develop a passion for writing—well that is just frosting on the cake.

What was something you took away from a writing class?

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Creating A Monster With Your Writing

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As I sit here trying to decide what I want to write for my blog post, I am continually being interrupted by my granddaughter. She is engrossed in a sticker book that allows her to create faces on cartoon monsters. Shyla insists that I approve each new creation.  Her joy was dampened when she noticed the examples on the front of the book. Believing this must be the right way to do it, she begs me to help her. We combed through the pages of stickers looking for just the right nose, horn, three eye combo and mouth to match the picture on the front.

Be careful not to imitate

Writers tend to do that, as well. While we learn the craft, we go from creating our own voice to copying exactly what someone else is doing because that has to be the right way. We comb writing books looking for examples that say what we want to say. Our imitation—like my granddaughters monster faces—is a close facsimile to the example. But it lacks something—originality.

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Let your originality shine

Shyla’s original monster faces are full of character. They reflect who she is. Each face becoming more distinct as she works out where to position each facial characteristic. The layout becomes smoother and the color combinations more dynamic. Her originality shines.

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Examples are only guides

Creativity and personality are keys to great writing. Guided by the examples we see in others’ writings, we take our writing tools and combine them to produce our own word pictures that others can benefit from. Originality is what draws readers to a writer’s work and keeps them coming back.

While learning the craft of writing, don’t compromise that natural God-given style for someone elses. Be the original God has made you to be.

What lessons have you learned about originality as you learn the craft of writing?

 

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