I lead a teen writer’s workshop every summer at the local library. I love doing it because…well, because I wish I could’ve attended such a thing when I was a teen/preteen. (But then when I told the kids that today I realized that sounded awfully stupid…maybe even a little conceited: I’m doing this for you because I wish someone had done it for me? But it’s the truth…when I was a kid one of the things I wanted most was to meet a real, live author. I took a paper route because it was the closest I could get to people who wrote for a living.)

I also love doing this because I love being with writers of any age…but I especially enjoy hanging out with kids who write. Several of these kids are repeat customers. Several of them are writing novels. I have a feeling I am working with kids who will one day be published authors and that’s really exciting to think about.

I’ve got a really quiet group this year. I try not to talk very much because I want THEM to talk, but this group is probably the quietest I’ve ever had. Many writers ARE quiet, so I’m not surprised…and today was the first week of the workshop. It usually does take them a couple of weeks to get comfortable with each other and open up.

Today we talked about ideas. I had several activities to help them come up with story ideas. One of the activities involved making a list of problems they’ve solved in their lives. I told them they should take their worksheets home with them…that these activities were for THEM, not me…and that they could refer to them when they have trouble coming up with ideas. But one of the kids left their papers at their seat. I have to admit I read the sheets…I enjoyed reading them, too (it’s like a window into the soul of a character…or a window into the soul of my target reader…)…until I got to the activity on problems. This person hadn’t listed any problems he/she had solved; instead he/she wrote at the top of the sheet: “I am a terrible problem solver. Every problem I have ever tried to solve has ended up blown to bits in my face. Yippee.” Definitely a window into a soul…but it about broke my heart to read that. And the fact that the person not only didn’t take it home, but then wrote this note at the top makes me wonder if they left it for me on purpose?

Teen writers workshop

4 thoughts on “Teen writers workshop

      • July 3, 2009 at 2:04 pm

        It is heart-breaking the teen feels so hopeless. But, even protagonists go through the same thing (like all of us, too). I wonder if learning to solve a character’s problem can help writers learn to think through and solve their own problems.

        • July 6, 2009 at 7:08 pm

          I think so! For me, writing and real life are very intertwined…one is always fueling the other in some way.


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