Inspirational creative writing workshop for pupils

Author Matt Whyman and Cheryse Rahaman with some students from the workshop
Author Matt Whyman and Cheryse Rahaman with some students from the workshop

On Friday November 14 successful local author Matt Whyman visited Steyning Grammar School to give a Creative Writing Presentation and Workshop to Year 9 students.

Matt, a graduate from the University of East Anglia where he gained an MA in Creative Writing, is both a successful author of teen fiction and an inspirational presenter of creative writing workshops. He has recently hosted workshops across Russia and the Middle East, and is often invited to teach the subject for writers of all ages.

Matt’s most notable books include Boy Kills Man (shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Book Prize), The Savages (nominated for the 2014 Carnegie Medal) and the recent sequel, American Savage. In addition, he is responsible for ghost-writing a recent bestselling celebrity memoir about TV’s best known dancing dog!

The session began with an amusing presentation to all Year 9 students explaining how a successful career can be forged by drawing on your imagination. Matt told the students how his career as a writer really took off when his first book ‘Boy Kills Man’ was published and how subsequently he has been invited all over the world to some far flung and dangerous places to speak about his book. This journey has ultimately driven his life as a writer, with a trip to Yeoman being the inspiration for his second book; a thriller called ‘Gold Strike’, with a further 20 novels being written.

Matt Whyman said: “One of the advantages of being a writer is that all you need to tell a story is a piece of paper, some time, an idea and some discipline. To get things done you also need to write well, for applications to Universities, exam papers, letters and a multitude of things. In fact writing will make things happen for you, so now is the time to get to grips with writing.”

Matt’s descriptive journey into the world of a writer gave students a clear understanding of how powerful the imagination can be and what it might be like to become a writer. Matt certainly inspired students to write for pleasure and definitely made students value the power of creative writing.

Students were very interested in finding out about the book making process and the career possibilities as a writer. Matt’s closing advice to students was: “You should get into writing because you love it – everything else comes after this. To be a successful writer you need to have three things– talent, the ability to work hard and a bit of luck.”

This presentation was then followed by an hour-long workshop to a pre-selected group of Year 9 students, nominated by their English teacher because they either enjoy creative writing and demonstrate a natural flair or want to gain more confidence in their creative writing skills. These students had the opportunity of exploring in more detail the writing process and specifically looking at ways of turning a topical news story into an engaging story. The workshop environment enabled students to talk about their ideas and give support to their initial story writing concepts.

Miss Cheryse Rahaman, Steyning Grammar School Literacy Leader said: “My remit is to focus on literacy for the school, raising the profile and enjoyment of reading and writing amongst the students. This session gives an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the fictional world in order to stimulate imaginations and a zest to read and write in creative ways. It also helps to boost student confidence, imagination and help to create young people who can communicate clearly and creatively.”

Report and photo contributed by Steyning Grammar School