Written By: Henry Fleischacker
A topic which can divide every child into two categories is creative writing. On the whole it is either embraced or disdained. Whether or not the child knows, there are at least three major benefits to the act of crafting a narrative.
1. In Awe of Surprises
First, creative writing expands the child’s imagination insofar as he or she explores the boundaries of what is possible. It should be noted that anything is possible inasmuch as it is based on what has already come. Nothing is ever new per se. Take the image of a unicorn. It is a combination of what already exists, a narwhal tusk and a horse. The combination itself is new, but the elements combined are not. The same is true of any story ever written. A kid should not be asked to come up with something out of thin air, for that fails to give him or her the method of exploring boundaries. Instead, it should be taught that a kid can combine facts of things that he already knows, perhaps by taking a couple animals as an example and testing to see what they might look like if they had parts to each. The higher the grade, the more that can be introduced of the elements of narratives. The trick about these elements is that their being combined veils meaning in order to invite a sense of mystery and eventual surprise. The meaning is relevant to the writer in some way, and the eventual surprise is relevant to the audience according to the writer’s likings. Narrative surprise is often a favorite of children, and it requires firstly that there is a mystery to be surprised by. So there you have it. The basic benefit of creative writing for kids is taking what they already know and being in awe of its surprising nature.
2. Reflective Skill
Second, with the act of writing fiction comes the act of reflecting on life in its mysteries and surprises. A great deal of reflective skill develops in the child who studies and writes narratives. He or she might notice that they are not surprised by anything that has been written about. On the other hand, the opposite might be true. And the child might want to take a similar surprise that has already been discovered and use it as if a character is endeavoring on a similar adventure. Creative writing entices kids to think about what details occurred that, while combined together, made for a certain surprise to be what it was, in such a way that the audience will experience the surprise in a like manner. Creative writing differs from other forms of writing in that the audience gets more of a re-experience of the situation in story-telling than if it were a piece of nonfiction. A kid must reflect on what it is to experience a surprise and what is necessary to build it through mystery. The sheer difficulty of these tasks challenges the undertakers to pause and observe what would make a story special to an audience. If nothing comes to mind about speciality, that too can be meaningful. A kid is thus opened to further reflection on life.
Lastly, creative writing yields poetic vision for kids. In other words, their ability to pause and observe what-ifs in any given situation allows them a perceptive ability about the world and the people living in it. Kids learn to see the world in profound ways. As their vision deepens, a number of elements unfold. They can see more to appreciate, to change, to dislike, to understand in light of a larger context of factors, and so on. A child may know what it is like to be angry, but ask them what their sibling experiences of their anger, and now a new field of perception unfolds. The child must step into his or her sibling’s shoes. His or her imagination expands, becoming reflective in the process, and having an attentive ear to the larger vision of the surprise and mystery of life and all it has to offer. Unlike pieces of nonfiction, creative writing benefits the child in that they must perceive all details in how to re-experience a meaningful moment of living. Such a re-experience comes through elements of character and conflict, climax and resolution, and settings and plot-lines.
If creative writing seems at all a daunting task, a hated proposition, a boring activity, or some other qualifying factor, it may be noted that each of these points must be proven to be true by the student him or herself, by demonstration, in order that they are given the freedom to either accept these ideas or reject them or even nuance them differently according to their own thought. Creative writing yields an awed, reflective, and perceptive child.