THE WRITE STUFF; across the West Midlands, a Series of Writing Squads Are Being Run by Professional Writers to Help Young Scribblers. CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR Reports

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), January 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

THE WRITE STUFF; across the West Midlands, a Series of Writing Squads Are Being Run by Professional Writers to Help Young Scribblers. CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR Reports


Byline: CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR

BECOMING the next George Orwell or Zadie Smith is not an easy task.

So a series of Writing Squads has been set up to coach a future generation of novelists, poets, playwrights and bloggers on how to put pen to paper.

The 16 groups in the West Midlands each offer up to 15 aspiring young writers aged between eight and 16 a monthly two-hour workshop.

The groups have been established by Writing West Midlands to help children develop writing skills, share their work and discuss ideas in small, friendly groups.

There are four local Write On! squads for 11 to 16-year-olds in Coventry, Rugby, Polesworth and Stratford-upon-Avon run by professional writers and an assistant.

Two of the groups - one at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and the other at Polesworth Library near Tamworth - is run by writer Naomi Alsop.

The 30-year-old sociology graduate from Meriden, who has a masters in writing from University of Warwick, has been running the classes in Coventry for 18 months.

"I have 15 students and they have a lot of different interests," she explains.

"We had a session recently on what it means to be human and worked with some actors from a local production. There was some amazing writing," she says.

"It's important for them to share their work and read it out."

Naomi's group gets together one Saturday a month and last year it took part in the Coventry Mysteries Festival, a week-long event showcasing arts talent in the city.

"We are now working on putting together an anthology of young people's writing which we are really excited about. It's an opportunity to develop their publishing skills. Our next meeting is on February 9," Naomi says.

The Rugby group, led by writer Rose Mouldling, and the Polesworth group are the two newest squads, being set up last October.

Naomi, a former Kenilworth School pupil who tutors students at University of Warwick on the Writing Programme, adds: "The Polesworth Writing Squad started up with eight young people. It's been really interesting.

I have been amazed by the standard of the student's writing."

She adds: "I write non-fiction and short stories. As a teenager I used to write in bed between 11pm and 2am and got into it again at Warwick Uni. It was then I realised the massive potential of writing and how it enables people to express themselves. I'd have killed for an opportunity like this when I was younger. It's great to be giving young people

the opportunity I wished I had at school.

"Very often you are working with young people who have not necessarily been encouraged to develop their imagination. How words can communicate ideas is wonderful." Professional writer David Calcutt and his assistant Natalie Parker have been running a Writing Squad at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon since September 2011.

The group of 10 to 13 writers meets monthly on Saturdays from 10.30am to 12.30pm in the Swan Reading Room at the Swan Theatre.

"They are becoming more confident in reading and discussing their work. …

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