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Kilvington Writer’s Festival: Writer-in-Residence program

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

This term we kicked off the Kilvington Writer’s Festival with the writer-in-residence program, a week of generating ideas, finessing craft, sharing work, and implementing feedback. Each year 10 class attended three workshops following the ICE model—inspire, create, edit—designed to help them make a start on their hope-themed entries to the Kilvington Writing Competition.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

The first workshop focused on life as an early-career writer, and the hurdles, opportunities, and rituals that come with it. We broke down the mysticism surrounding ideas and talked about tools to help us unlock ideas hiding in our pasts, the future, and in the world around us.

In the second workshop, we expanded upon these ideas with a series of writing activities designed to free us from the constraints we put on ourselves as writers. We condensed our stories into one sentence, wrote scenes without using any visual description, and flipped perspectives to encourage experimenting with voice.

In the final workshop of the week, we talked about the importance of a writing community, and letting go of our pride when it comes to receiving feedback. As a group, we read our peers’ work and shifted our thinking from creative to analytical. Students shared techniques that could improve the writing on a line level and commented on the text’s overall style and structure.

To finish off the final workshop, we talked about the importance of having a writer’s ritual—a set routine that will tell your brain it’s time to settle into writing. Once we had a clear idea of our ideal writing environment, we found a comfortable spot, listened to some music, and immersed ourselves in our stories.

Creative writing involves thinking deeply about what could be. What if. It’s a skill that ties together the three pillars of innovation: imagination, communication, and independent thought. Listening to the year 10s talk about their ideas, hopes, and fears was like getting a sneak peek into the kind of world the next generation will build. Their stories didn’t shy away from the most pressing issues of today—climate change, isolation, oppressive leadership. With these young minds at the wheel, I have no doubt that the future is in good hands.

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