I’m sure that in the worry and uncertainty of the last couple of weeks, afterschool clubs are the last thing on anyone’s mind! But since the schools are closing and students are looking at weeks of working at home, I’ve made a list of some online resources that might entertain, help them feel less isolated, and allow creativity to continue to flourish. And being creative might even help those who are feeling anxious about what’s going on to express and deal with those feelings.
And it’s all a matter of perspective. We can believe we’re prisoners in our own homes or we can pretend we’re JD Salinger, shunning the press and writing our next classic novel!
- The wonderful writer and champion of Irish KidsLit, Sarah Webb, will be posting daily writing games, story prompts and word fun with videos and linked downloads, available on the MoLI Museum website. These will be for ages 9+ but teens may also enjoy them.
- For older kids and adults (you might be going stir crazy too!) YA writer Claire Hennessy will be posting writing prompts to keep us sane for the next couple of weeks.
- Poet, Catherine Ann Cullen, will be posting regular poetry prompts and exercises on Twitter
- Illustrator, Chris Judge is posting drawing prompts on Twitter and you can post your drawings on his feed
- John Boyne has set up a 300-word short story competition for writers aged 6-18. Winners in each category get a 200Euro book token and it’s judged by a panel of writers including John Boyne and Cecelia Ahern. The closing date is 25th March.
- Joss Stirling (AKA YA writer Julia Golding) is doing a series of videos on writing a novel for beginners.
- Kathryn Evans has a series of videos with writing prompts and advice for young writers.
- Fighting Words are looking for submissions of stories, poems, graphic fiction and plays and more from secondary school students, age 13 to 18, for inclusion in Analecta, their online anthology. The deadline is 29th March.
- NI YA writer Shirley Anne McMillan has made a video to show you how to make your own Zine (or mini-book)
- For inspiration, The International Alliance of Youth Writing Centres website has lots of examples of writing by young people from all over the world.
- Sarah Crossan and is doing daily scheduled live Instagramming of short poetry workshops to get young people writing and chatting about books, and she’s taking requests from teachers.
- Authorfy have lots of resources, Author videos and writing challenges.
- Neil Gaiman is reading The Graveyard Book aloud on his website.
- The O’Brien press are running a Design a Book Cover competition, closing 1st May.
- And for the adults (if you feel like doing some writing!) Toby Litt has created a free online 10 lesson course on writing short stories. Might give that a go myself.
Hopefully there’s something there for everyone, and if you’re looking for more, there are many writers and artists on Twitter offering free stuff for young people so you should take a look.
Incidentally, I think this is incredibly generous and public spirited of these writers and artists, especially since freelance workers like them are going to be among the hardest hit economically by all this, but it just shows how dedicated and passionate they are about sharing art and creativity with young people and how important they feel this is.
If you want to support a freelance artist/writer now would be the time to buy their book/art/music and ask them to come to your school next year. And if you want to keep independent bookshops going, please go to them instead of Amazon. Many are posting books out even if they’re closed.
I saw this online and thought it would be great if everyone’s home-schooling experience included Creative Time! (Not sure why Creative Time should be separate from Academic Time but that’s a discussion for another day)
So do point your young writers towards these resources before the schools close. Maybe they’ll come back with a novel or a poetry collection instead of square eyes from watching Netflix!
And take a look at them yourself, they could be useful even just to stock up on ideas for when we’re all back to normal.
I’ll continue to post on The Blank Page in the meantime. I know writing groups won’t be able to run if the schools close (unless you’re running online) but I’m aiming to put as much as possible on this blog so that it’s not just useful this year but will be a helpful resource for any school to use in the years ahead.
And if you’re trying to inspire your writers to do some creative work at home during the Covid-19 school closures and would like to send me their work or their questions I’ll be happy to respond with feedback/answers.
Stay safe, look after each other and continue being your amazing, inspiring selves. In the meantime, here’s a poem by Mary Oliver.