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Ignite a passion for storytelling with teen writing group

Ignite a passion for storytelling with teen writing group

23 February 2022
Members of Igniting Writing at a recent session

Despite the many challenges presented by Covid-19, our popular teen creative writing group has continued to enjoy fun and engaging sessions during the last two years.


Igniting Writing, which formed back in 2014, resumed face-to-face meetings at Wokingham Library in November after nearly 18 months of going online.


Run by a team of three volunteers, Igniting Writing gets together every Saturday, except for the second Saturday of the month and during school holidays.


An early session for children in school years 6 to 8 runs from 9.45am to 11.15am, while a later meeting for those in years 9 to 13 follows from 11.45am to 1.15pm.


The second Saturday of the month is reserved for the ‘Write with an Author’ project, which runs from 10.30am to 12 noon and includes writing tips and fun activities.

The buzz of sharing inspiration


Although the volunteers and young people prefer meeting in person, there were benefits to virtual sessions, as they were able to invite authors from across the UK to give guest talks.


Previous guest speakers have included Lisa Williamson, Temi Oh, Victoria Gemmell and Simon James Green.


Volunteer and Igniting Writing leader Alex Baker said: “Doing the sessions in person again is great. Online sessions were still fun, but nothing can replace the buzz of talking to young writers one-to-one and hearing them share their stories.


“The aim is to bring young writers together to develop their creative writing and make friends in a fun and relaxed group setting. Writing is generally seen as a solitary activity and Igniting Writing tries to break that perception, making writing something that’s fun and collaborative and giving members the chance to make friends.


“Not many teens will have tried something obscure like travel writing, so the Igniting Writing sessions act as an introduction to a range of topics and genres that the teens can go onto explore further if they're interested.”


Alex is assisted by former Igniting Writing members Katie Hall and Becca Harman, who enjoyed the sessions so much that they decided to stay on as volunteers.

Improve confidence and make friends


Testimonies from the children that attend Igniting Writing sessions demonstrate what it has done for their writing, but also their confidence and making friends.


Ruth, a pupil at St Crispin’s School, said: “The Igniting Writing sessions have helped inspire me and build my confidence. After speaking to a friend I made at the group, I’ve started publishing some of my writing online.”


Fellow St Crispin’s pupil James added: “I like that the group brings together lots of creative people like me. The sessions encourage motivation and spawn a lot of creative ideas that everyone can develop in their writing.”


Nat, who attends St Bartholomew’s School, said: “Igniting Writing is definitely more relaxed than school. I love to let loose and write without restrictions and the group members are really open and accepting to any newcomers.”


Sessions are structured around a writing topic and after a brief introduction, the volunteers set a writing task, often involving drawing prompts out of a hat. Members are given advice on how to structure stories and the meetings end by sharing what they have written.


Volunteers hope to arrange visits from more guest speakers in the future, including authors, illustrators and poets. They are also leading creative writing taster sessions in local schools and youth clubs.


Cllr Bill Soane, executive member for neighbourhoods and communities, said: “Opening your mind to the world of storytelling is a great way for children and young people to develop. Not only can they gain more confidence, but they have the chance to make friends with like-minded people.


“Although these volunteers went to great effort to ensure these meetings continued digitally, I’m sure the engagement the Igniting Writing members get in person could never be replaced.”


All sessions are free, but need to be booked in advance. Even though the sessions are back at the library, Covid-19 procedures are still being followed, with visitors wearing face masks and adhering to social distancing.


To register, email libraries@wokingham.gov.uk and you can read the Igniting Writing blog to find out more.

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