A Magical School of Story-craft and Writing Wizardry

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Welcome to the Melbourne Young Writers’ Studio’s new blog, my name is Dan and I’m the founder and director of this unique youth arts and education company.

As this is our first blog post, I wanted to take a moment to tell you a bit about who we are, what sets us apart and what you can expect to see here on the blog.

I have always loved stories, but honestly, I haven’t always understood them. As a child I was obsessed with making up characters and sharing them with my family and friends in any way that I could – around a campfire, in a backyard play, written in a handmade book, or perhaps in a song. Admittedly, I don’t remember much about those early stories of mine and it’s safe to say they probably weren’t particularly good. I’m sure some of my ideas had legs, but I know that at that stage in my life I didn’t have the skills to bring them to life in a way that worked. For me, that came later on.

In many ways I have been a latecomer to the craft of story, which is perhaps one reason I find myself continually amazed by the talent of the many young writers who attend our weekly story workshops at the Melbourne Young Writers’ Studio in Fitzroy North. Sometimes, when I read their work and see evidence of their skill I’m completely blown away and reminded once again how much I would have loved to have been part of something like this when I was younger.

As it is, this is exactly the reason I decided to open Melbourne Young Writers’ Studio in the first place. I wanted to create a place free from the limitations of a traditional school environment. A place where young people are free to learn and explore story, indulge their creative whims, and grow into a better understanding of themselves in the process.  

At Melbourne Young Writers’ Studio, we believe that anyone has the potential to become a great writer given the right encouragement and support. The key is… you guessed it… story.

You see, we have seen over and over again, that when young people feel supported enough, brave enough, and free enough to explore their creative ideas, no matter how weird or wonderful, they begin to wrap their brains around the inner workings of story. Thus, a personal relationship with story is forged and passion is sparked, and it’s here that young writers begin to truly care about what they are writing.

Caring about what you have to say is everything.

On a personal level, story has given me so much. A clear sense of self. Improved emotional intelligence. Better communication skills. Creative thinking and processing skills. The tools to help me reflect on problems in a thoughtful and objective manner, and a framework to help me interpret and navigate the world around me. For me, stories have been my passion and my pastime, one that has also played a big role in some of my most meaningful relationships and friendships.  

At Melbourne Young Writers’ Studio we take a unique story-first approach to teaching writing. We don’t believe in testing, we believe in mentoring and inspiring, and we teach writing from a place of passion. All of our workshop leaders are practicing writers of one form or another, and between us we cover off all major writing disciplines and mediums. We don’t have a set curriculum, which allows us to be flexible in our approach, creating unique resources and bringing a collective wealth of story and creative writing knowledge to the table. Our first port of call is always to find out what our young writers are passionate about, and we build from this personalised foundation.  

As an original part of the Harry Potter generation, I, like so many other young people, daydreamed about what it would be like to receive that letter via owl post. The one inviting you to join a magical school of witchcraft and wizardry. What that school represented in my young mind was freedom, self-expression, adventure, story and of course, magic!

Now, let me be upfront. We at Melbourne Young Writers’ Studio don’t possess the aforementioned magical powers. We do boast some talent, but for the most part it’s skill. We may not be able to teach our young writers to duel a dragon in real life, but we can go one better. We can teach them to conjure a dragon out of thin air using only their imaginations.  A dragon that is unlike any other and entirely theirs.

So, consider this your letter, your invitation. You may have a child interested in creative writing or needing a little extra help putting their creative ideas into practice. Or, maybe you are just interested in story. Either way, you are welcome.

Each week on this blog we’ll be posting original stories from our young writers, along with writing prompts, lessons and opinion pieces from our excellent workshop leaders.

We look forward to sharing more of our story with you as it evolves and invite you to be part of the Melbourne Young Writers’ Studio adventure.