Recently in the news, there was a story about the discovery of an engraved stone in Jersey, something archaeologists are calling the UK's oldest artwork. It got me thinking about the awesome nature of human creativity (again) and how it has evolved throughout history into what it is today. If creativity expressed through art began as scratchings on stone, then creativity expressed through writing began as the formation of lines into alphabets, followed by the formation of written words and sentences, with the final result being the immense and expanding body of written work we have at our disposal today.
No other species on our planet can write (as far as I know!), and this unique human ability is part of our creative and communicative DNA, and a reason why every child should be given the opportunity to learn such a vital skill. But we often fall into the trap of thinking that only some humans have the talent to be creative writers, people like Shakespeare or J.K. Rowling or our English teacher. And we think that only some forms of writing are worthy of the title creative; novels, poems, songs and so on, not shopping lists or text messages or our geography homework. Yet if writing in itself is a creative process, then all writing is creative writing and anyone who can hold a pencil and form letters on a page is a creative writer.
Of course, writing has different purposes and not all writing is going to be publishable or win the Man Booker Prize. But if children (and adults) can think of themselves as creative writers already, then it can help take the pressure off when they are faced with a blank piece of paper and a 'creative writing' task to complete. Another way to relieve pressure and increase enjoyment of writing is to lose the fear of failure. Matthew Syed, the author of Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success, has written an interesting article for the BBC about the value of failure in creativity. You can read it here.
Part of my vision for Burst is to create a programme of resources and workshops to help children gain confidence in their own creativity and develop skills for successful writing. Although a good deal of my website seems to be "more details soon..." at the moment, I'm really excited about some developments we are making and look forward to sharing them with you in the coming weeks.