Drawing inspiration

24 April 2018

Drawing inspiration

Author, Jack Heath spends a fortnight with Edgecliff boys sharing his love of books and inspiring boys to write engaging imaginative texts.

As part of our drive to promote a love of creative writing, Edgecliff welcomed award winning author, Jack Heath to be part of a residency programme. Jack delivered writing workshops with each class from Kindergarten to Year Six during Library lessons.

We appreciate that creative writers have the power to entertain someone, to make someone laugh, to make someone cry… to make someone think. With a pen or pencil, boys can make things happen; they can find their voice and communicate. Our writing programmes at Edgecliff aim to allow the boys to connect; we want their words to reach out to an audience, known or unknown. Jack’s programme supported the framework of our teaching, providing an author’s perspective on developing engaging stories. Jack has written more than twenty action-packed novels for children, although he is probably best known for his Danger series. The residency championed the joy of reading, fostered an understanding of the craft of writing and connected readers and writers. All classes worked with Jack exploring techniques designed to tap into boy’s creativity and an opportunity to share skills necessary to develop wonderful narratives.  The experience of listening and working with such an engaging presenter was both enjoyable and memorable, and it is hoped that the creative energy triggered by the workshops has lead to an appreciation of the emotional and intellectual power of language.

Thoughts from Jack..

It's self-evident that reading makes you a better writer, but I've discovered that it goes both ways: writing also makes you a better reader. One of the things I like most about teaching is that as the students' work becomes better and better, I can see them making connections between their own writing and the stories they love, and seeing the hidden strengths in novels they might otherwise have dismissed. I started writing my first novel as a 13-year old, and the stories which inspire me now (such as biographies of Einstein) are not the same as the ones which inspired me then (such as Final Fantasy VIII). Writing has changed my tastes.

It's also changed the way I see the world, and the way I manage my life. To paraphrase David Allen: "The brain is a thinking tool, not a storage device. So write things down." The better your writing skills, the more effective this strategy is.

When I'm teaching, I encourage kids to write what they feel like reading, rather than what they feel like writing. This, too, encourages them to think about the stories they like in a more analytical way. I also encourage them to write rough drafts, rather than just first drafts. Experiment. Take risks. Writing isn't heart surgery--no-one is going to die if you do it wrong. Quality comes from editing, so generate as much raw material as you can, as fast as you can.

Each Year group used the workshops with Jack as a springboard for more comprehensive writing projects, from creating short digital storybooks in the Infants to individually published narratives in Year Six. All boys presented their pieces to family and friends during our Open Day celebrations in Term Two.

Thank you, Jack for a wonderful fortnight.