Why should pupils share their writing?

It's a challenge both to stimulate pupils to write and also to make them feel comfortable enough to share work. This week, Kelsey Morse of Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre explains more about what the centre can offer, and gives some handy tips about teaching writing.

As a former English teacher, I realise that encouraging students to regularly engage with the course work is one of the biggest challenges of the job. It requires constant creativity and innovation in lessons; teachers must find new ways to utilise classroom space, technology, and existing materials to capture pupils’ interest and convey the message.

My experience taught me that pupils responded well to exploring learning areas beyond their desks. Moving to the library, technology lab, or different corners of the classroom often sparked interest in the day’s lesson. It showed the importance of changing pupils’ learning environment, especially when working toward high stakes assignments, like exams or folios; new atmospheres eased tensions and fostered better focus on the task at hand.

If you’re looking to invigorate pupils with a change of scenery, Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre provides an inspiring environment for them to write. The Centre is situated in the hills above Beauly, just north of Inverness. Amidst fluttering birds and lush grasses, small groups of writers huddle with two tutors for a week at a time to hone their craft.

Moniack Mhor also offers residential schools courses for young people. Our list of tutors includes well-regarded authors who have all had experience working with young people. Each morning the tutors lead a workshop where students jog their skills for a day of writing (writing warm-up exercises can be very effective – you can try some here). After lunch, students settle in to write until one-on-one tutorials begin in the late afternoon. These sessions encourage students to revisit their work in fresh ways, pushing them to new levels of innovation (novelist Karen Miller provides some advice on revisiting first drafts here).

Moniack Mhor’s schools courses allow pupils of all abilities to flourish, whether it be a day or week long affair. Many leave with one or more finished pieces and handfuls of folio ideas.

Experienced schools course tutor, John Glenday, sheds light on the course approach with advice for pupils trying creative writing:

“Write about the solid things of the world, the things you can throw a stick at, knock your shins against.  Avoid abstraction as much as possible. The abstraction should be on the inside. If you write about the things we cannot touch, such as pain, wonder, loss, despair, fear, etc., then describe them in concrete terms so we can see, feel, taste them, and weigh them in our arms. That’s the best way to describe emotion.”

Some more advice on creative writing can be found in our videos with authors Cathy Forde and Keith Gray!

Sharing work is also important, as pupils learn a lot about one another through each person’s writing. Having the freedom to create an original work lets pupils put themselves on display, sometimes sharing and discovering things they never expected to. Sharing that work builds bridges and, I think, gets to the heart of what Moniack Mhor’s schools courses are about.

‘Brilliant tutors, great atmosphere in the house and great learning experience.’ ~Student from Ardrossen Academy


More information about Moniack Mhor schools courses can be found on our website, www.moniackmhor.org.uk. To get a quote or book a schools course with Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre, please call +44 (0)1463 741675 or email moniackmhor@arvonfoundation.org.