Samantha Campbell, a student at the University of Coventry, did work experience with Writing West Midlands in July 2013. Here she reviews one of our creative writing activities, a writing workshop for parents and their children aged 8 – 14.
This family writing workshop was led by Birmingham based author Anna Lawrence Pietroni whose first novel, Ruby’s Spoon, is set in the fictional Black Country town of Cradle Cross. The workshop took place on the 31 of July 2013 at The Pen Museum in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham where history and craft come together perfectly. The pen museum only fills two rooms and a library but it is filled to the brim with interesting artefacts. The pairs consisted of parents and children working together on set tasks that were meant to teach them how to unleash their imagination. The tasks were invigorating and fun for the children. It all began with an artefact search. The parents and children searched together through the archives for the unique exhibits. Children gawped at the old pens and how fancy their writing looked using an ink quill instead of the standard blue biro.
The staff were friendly and helpful, they let the children use the quills and provided them with pots of ink. The pairs played away on the typewriters before the workshop got serious and they scoured their imaginations for ideas and new characters. The workshop was full of fantastic tips to get the imagination started such as ‘Name your pens and give them personalities’ and ‘describe what is the opposite of you’ to create new curious characters. The children all responded really positively to the writing tasks and there was even some drawings of maps of their imagined worlds.
The children revelled in writing a mean newsletter to the neighbouring clan, they even wrote about what a witch’s pen could do to you! The workshop informed children of the benefits of sharing ideas with other people. The atmosphere was friendly with people sharing insults and laughing together. The workshop was really interactive and the excitement in the air was palpable. The pairs had been inspired by the fascination of history and how writing has evolved, especially the tools!
The Pen Museum, Unit 3 The Argent Centre, 60 Frederick Street, Hockley, Birmingham, B1 3HS. Monday to Saturday 11am to 4pm, Sunday 1pm to 4pm. www.penroom.co.uk
Anna Lawrence Pietroni is blogging here: http://fiveby3.wordpress.com
To see more images from the Family Writing Workshop, please visit our Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/writingwestmidlands/sets/72157634875145980/.