Creative Writing 101

It was a dark and stormy night … wait that is another story (or a classic writing prompt). It was a sunny, albeit somewhat cold, January day in Kathmandu when I volunteered to assist with a literature class as part of a two-week winter camp being held at the Chelsea Education Center. The teacher was going over essay writing, and I assisted where asked. Then, on day three of the camp, the teacher pulled me aside and explained that he had some other commitments arise, and could I take over teaching the class? I said ‘Sure.’ I asked the students, a small group of bright and spirited girls, if they were interested in creative writing – to a resounding ‘Yes!’ Thus began my brief journey as a creative writing teacher.

In the fall, I had developed a four-day storytelling workshop as part of an internship with the organization Canopy Nepal. Utilizing many of the same activities, I created my lesson plans for the class. I would often open class by sharing a short story or some poetry, and then engage the students in various writing activities. The girls were enthusiastic about writing and impressed me with their creativity and English skills. Though they were often hesitant to start, once provided a sentence to begin with, they took off, weaving beautiful and imaginative tales.

One day I introduced several forms of poetry, and asked the girls to try writing some poetry of their own; they responded with, ‘We can’t write poetry.’ So I engaged the whole class in writing a couple of Haikus collectively, and finally one or two of the girls began to think, ‘Maybe we can write poetry.’ It was amazing to witness the students grow during the class, and to see their enthusiasm to come every day and write stories. In fact, one day I completed my planned lesson 10 minutes before the end of class, and thought to release to students a little early.  Then they said, ‘But sister, we still have 10 minutes!’

On the final day of the camp, each of the girls stood up in front of their brothers and sisters and presented a piece of their writing – I was so proud of them! Though only for a short time, working with these enthusiastic and creative students was a joy. And through the process of teaching them, I was also inspired to write more myself.