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Live creative writing workshops for 14 to 17-year-olds launched in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 10:30 14 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:56 14 May 2020

Lit from the Inside is a professional development programme from the National Centre for Writing         Picture: Hannah Hutchins

Lit from the Inside is a professional development programme from the National Centre for Writing Picture: Hannah Hutchins

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The National Centre for Writing has launched an initiative supporting young creatives in Norfolk.

Poppy Nash, 15, is a Year 10 student at Hellesdon High School and writer    Picture: Poppy NashPoppy Nash, 15, is a Year 10 student at Hellesdon High School and writer Picture: Poppy Nash

The inaugural year of Lit from the Inside launched in January, a new professional development programme from the National Centre for Writing. The initiative focuses on young people who want to learn more about the literary arts scene in Norwich and Norfolk.

Open to those aged between 14 and 17, the project is funded by Anguish’s Educational Foundation and Norwich Freeman’s Charity for the next three years. The first cohort of 18 young people were selected from 50 applications.

Victoria Maitland, programme assistant at National Centre for Writing, says: “The Lit from the Inside programme is designed for young people in Norwich and Norfolk who are interested in the arts, with a focus on creative writing and literature.

“The application process was designed to find those that are passionate about literature, enthusiastic about meeting other people and want to engage in the scene so that they can develop their own creative practice. We want to engage young people in the arts scene while developing interest in Norwich as an UNESCO City of Literature.”

Victoria believes it can be difficult for young people with an interest in the arts, as career options are not well defined.

“The problem when it comes to young people choosing a career path in this industry is that it doesn’t seem like a clear-cut route. I didn’t know that a job like mine existed when I was at school. If I had been told I could do this job from the age of 14 or 15, it would have shaped how I chose my A levels and university degree.

“The scheme’s aim is to open that world up to young people who otherwise would not be able to access it.”

The Lit from the Inside programme offers opportunities to meet and interview authors and translators, learn about marketing and broadcasting, and take trips out of Norfolk to experience other literary scenes and events, such as Verve Poetry Festival in Birmingham. While the lockdown has put some of these activities on hold, the National Centre for Writing is moving activities online.

Amelia Platt (left) is enrolled at Reepham College and is currently completing her Silver Arts Award      Picture: Taryn EverdeenAmelia Platt (left) is enrolled at Reepham College and is currently completing her Silver Arts Award Picture: Taryn Everdeen

“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we have had to adapt – so now we are offering workshops,” explains Victoria. “For example, we are doing one with poet Hannah Jane Walker and another with short story writer Jan Carson.”

Another main focus lies in connecting young people so that they can encourage one another.

“Having a group where you can talk about a shared interest – whether that is chatting about books you’ve read, trying out creative writing prompts together, or bouncing ideas off of one another – is vital,” Victoria says. “If you’re a writer, having a group of people who you can share your work with and channel creative inspiration from is really important, so the programme also provides that at a younger age.

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“This is especially important at the moment, as we are all feeling isolated due to the lockdown.”

Poppy Nash, 15, is a Year 10 student at Hellesdon High School, as well as being a Lit from the Insider.

“I mostly write short stories at school and at home in my free time, but this is the first thing I have done with other writers,” Poppy says. “Thanks to the programme I feel like I have opportunities to do more writing. And now I know that there is a career in writing, and I can do more with it instead of just keeping it all to myself.

“I recently met with someone who worked for the Oxford University Press. She gave me lots of insight into where I can go with my writing, but she also showed me that I can work behind the scenes. Through that experience I’ve learned that I want to work in publishing.

“I’m really excited about meeting with the rest of the people from Lit from the Inside in person once the lockdown is lifted. I really like the atmosphere there and talking to people with the same interests. I’m looking forward to that more than going back to school!”

Amelia Platt, 17, is enrolled at Reepham College and is currently completing Year 12 at sixth form.

“I got involved with the National Centre for Writing three years ago when I entered the Young Norfolk Writing Competition,” Amelia says. “I like writing short stories and have always loved English as a subject. Lit from the Inside has helped me to think about English as a career and develop practical ways of using my love of writing.”

Amelia is making the most of the time in lockdown to explore different creative avenues and recently wrote a blog which has been published on the National Centre for Writing website.

“As part of Lit from the Inside I was given the chance to do my Silver Arts Award which involves an arts challenge, so I’m looking at different types of writing from around the world and recreating it.

“I also did a great workshop on writing for wellbeing and looking at how we can use writing as a tool to help ourselves during the lockdown.”

It is a stressful time for all of us, but particularly for young people whose education has been interrupted. The National Centre for Writing is offering free online courses for all young people to supplement the school curriculum, as well as a bibliotherapy blog which gives book recommendations.

Amelia says that creative outlets like that provided by the National Centre for Writing are important at a time like this.

“It is important to have that connection. We underestimate how important human interaction and connection is – and if writing is a tool for that then it’s really helpful.”

For more information about the National Centre for Writing and Lit from the Inside visit nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk/lit-inside


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