School’s Out For Summer!

Illustration by Charlotte Cleveland

It is the end of the school year and my work as Author in the Classroom has ended until September. So, back to the day job of being an Author and guess what I am writing about? Quite by coincidence, my next publication will be a Non-Fiction book for writers called:

How to be an Author in the Classroom

It has a deadline for the end of July (which is now half way through and the book is not yet edited and ready for publication, and is without illustrations!) Gerald Hornsby and I will be delivering a short course workshop at Swanwick Writers’ summer school about this and it would be handy to have the book ready.

Here’s a sneaky introduction to what I will cover in Author in the Classroom

You don’t have to write children’s books to work with children in schools. Being an author is enough. And being an Author in the Classroom is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. It is constantly surprising, energising and exhausting in equal measure. Most importantly, working with children makes me think about my own practice and process as a writer. It makes me question not only why I write but also, how I write, largely because children can be brutally honest and are great at asking the questions grown-ups are too well trained to ask.

The two activities of writing and being a creative writing tutor are symbiotic; being an author adds validation to being a creative writing tutor and running workshops inspires my writing.

And even though I am not directly earning a living from my writing, I can still earn a living from being a writer and from my writing related business, which enables me to have the freedom, flexibility and income, to write books. Which makes it a win-win for me. Doing something I love and teaching it to others for a living.

I work as a Creative Practitioner in primary schools (UK: age 5 -11) and this is the cohort that I will be talking about in this book. I have worked with dozens of schools and thousands of children, delivering creative writing workshops around many different themes, and not always in schools. I have also worked in libraries, tents at local festivals, ancient monuments and even on a train!

Working with children helps me to make sense of my world in the context of being a writer and sharing my passion for writing with others. I am sometimes fortunate enough to work alongside other Creative Practitioners, including actors, dancers, musicians, artists, and story tellers, which is not only great fun, but helps me to develop my own creativity.

Parts of this book may also be relevant if you are an artist or practitioner in another art form, who would like to take your practice into schools. It will also inform children’s writers who are visiting a school to read from their own books.

This book will tell you: what I do, why I do it and how. It will give you tips, help and guidelines about how you too can be an author in the classroom.

I have also added some detail about programmes I have delivered in schools. These are included as examples and inspiration, but feel free to use what you can and adapt to suit your needs. I put them in to show you the limitless possibilities for expressing your own creativity whilst supporting the school’s need to deliver a curriculum which seems a bit dry. You can bring your own creative spark alongside your knowledge and experience of writing and you can really make a difference.

My programmes aim to make writing fun. It is not about literacy – teachers are expert at that and do it really well. This is about the joy of writing and supporting children’s well-being through releasing their innate creativity.

Creativity can provide an anchor for children’s wellbeing in a world which is sometimes chaotic and often baffling. So, buckle up and see what a difference you can make to the lives of children, and how this will impact on your own writing and your ability to earn a living as a writer.

Illustrations by Charlotte Cleveland

Published by Anita Belli

Author and Creative Writing Tutor. Novels: Divas, Dogs & Dreamers. Once Upon A Blue Moon. Ruby Sixpence Whistles Up A Storm. The Traveller & The Rose. The Art Forger's Daughter. Non-Fiction: How to be An Author in the Classroom. Write Your Life. Kickstart Your Writing. Unlock The Block. For Children: A Month of Writing Adventure

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