Start Your Own Creative Writing Clubs

Creative writing clubs can be a huge success!

Creative Writing Club Guide
Fifteen years ago, I had three separate private mentoring clients. Each was a girl between the ages of 11 and 13, and all three loved to write fantasy stories. I worked with them on their writing separately for a while until it dawned on me that they were lonely. They wished that they had someone with similar interests who they could connect to. I put the three together in my first ever creative writing club, and called it "Kindred Spirits." We wrote stories together, critiqued movies, and worked on art projects that were motivating to the girls. They became fast friends.

The club seemed like a good thing, so I put up some fliers at local libraries and schools, advertising the fact that I had a creative writing club for girls only. In a very short period of time, Kindred Spirits went from three girls to six to twelve. Soon it was busting at the seams and I had to start a second group for the younger girls called "Dream Catchers." The concept continued to grow, though I did no further advertising (girls were bringing their friends to the clubs for visits, and my numbers grew through word of mouth only).

Today, I have five creative writing clubs, one for girls only, one for boys only, and three for mixed genders (depending on age). I am currently at 70 writing students, and I have expanded the practice to several schools in the area, with a small crew of employees who supervise the clubs, since I can't be everywhere at once. My creative writing clubs provide well over half of my monthly income, though I only spend 16 hours a month on them (the rest comes from teaching language arts full time at a school for twice exceptional children). And they're fun! The kids love them so much, I have some students who have been with my writing clubs from the beginning (eight whole years!) and are now in college, working for me as student teachers at other schools.

Intrigued? Want to learn how to establish writing clubs of your own? I can show you how. I can also help you find an online writing mentor or professional editor of your own, regardless of your age or skill level.

This email has 3 purposes, as a thanks, a request, and a heads up.

First, Aidan had an excellent time yesterday at Dragon Writers. He couldn't stop talking about it. Actually, for Aidan that's not news. What was really remarkable was that within a few hours of arriving home, he brought out his AlphaSmart so he could start on writing the work you had asked of him. It's very unusual for him to initiate writing, so I was tickled for him.

Second is the request. Aidan would be interested in being in both the Monday and Friday clubs, if there is room. Please let me know if you see any problems with that, and/or if there is room for him.

Third, I'm still planning on bringing my daughter Sinead to the Dream Catchers. I let last Sunday escape from me, but the 8/22 date is on the calendar.

Virtually anyone interesting in teaching kids and loves to write can do quite well with writing clubs. Follow this checklist to see if any of these apply to you:

Are You:

  • Crazy about kids? Do you love being around them?
  • Do kids like you? Are you fun to be with? Do you laugh at their jokes and watch the movies they like and find their toys to be interesting?
  • Are you easy-going and accepting? Able to find the special beauty within each child, even the behaviorally difficult or learning disabled ones?
  • Do you enjoy challenges and changing environments?
  • Do you like to read and write? You really need to enjoy both of these activities in order to run these clubs.
  • Are you creative? And can you improvise? Most of the kids you’re going to attract into your writing clubs are also good artists, musicians, comedians, linguists, actors, and intensely creative in many other ways. They’re unpredictable and fun. If you’re not very creative, you’ll need to recognize this as a weakness and ask the kids to help you.

If you don’t have most of the above characteristics, you’re probably looking at the wrong business. If you fit the bill, creating your own writing clubs is easy and endlessly fulfilling.

What does this guide offer?

Since I've been doing this for over eight years now, I feel I've worked out most of the kinks, made all the mistakes, and found what really works. I've written all this down in the guide so you can get started quickly and avoid the pitfalls I made.

Here's the Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. A Little History
  3. Finding a Place to Meet
  4. Age Groupings and Censorship
    • Elementary School
    • Middle School
    • High School
    • Permission Slip
  5. Structuring Meeting Dates and Times
  6. Fees, Billing and Registration Forms
    • Creative Writing Club Payment Form
    • Registration Form for Parents
    • Student’s Personal Information
    • Club History and Curriculum Handout
  7. Finding Students and Advertising
    • Sample Flyer
  8. Structuring Good Club Meetings
    • Dragon Writers (elementary age boys)
    • Dream Catchers (elementary age girls)
    • Generation X-Pression (mixed middle-schoolers)
    • Tenth Muse Society (mixed high-schoolers)
  9. Getting Reluctant Students to Write
  10. Helpful Hints
  11. Stories of Eccentric Children
  12. Communications
    • Finding An Assistant
    • Assistant Duties
    • Training
  13. Other Good Things to Remember
  14. Group Projects and Publishing
  15. Summer Camp and Other Fun Stuff
  16. Summer Fantasy Writing Camp
  17. Offering Other Money-Making Services
    • Tutoring and Mentoring
    • Editing Services
    • Workshops
  18. Sample Forms to Download

Here's the kind of difference you can make:

3 1/2 years ago, my then second grade daughter struggled in a public school gifted student program. She had stopped reading, writing and even putting her name on a worksheet. Her self-esteem hovered below zero and her normally sunny personality had melted away. As parents we became frantic for reasons and solutions.

Our daughter was then diagnosed by a local but nationally known expert as having a learning disorder. Knowing the "why" led to asking the "now what"? Of course the expert had a list of recommendations. I asked, mother to mother, what should I do first.

She did not hesitate; "enroll your daughter in Miriam Darnell's Creative Expressions writing club."

Thankful for something I could do immediately, I did just that.

I will never forget the first Sunday afternoon club meeting, November 2000. The group we tried was all little girls with similar issues and was called, "Dream Catchers." My daughter was born eccentric, and for that afternoon she dressed in leopard pj's, a pink feather boa, Tweety Bird slippers and sunglasses. This had been a more or less normal outfit in the past and I was actually happy to see the old friends back on. I thought at the time that she may testing this new idea, seeing what the initial reactions would be.

Miriam didn't bat an eye, welcoming her with twinkling eyes. I left my daughter with my cell phone number, expecting to be called early with, "I want to go home now," and waited at a neighborhood park. That call never came.

When I picked my daughter up, she skipped!!! down the walk and jumped into the car. She jabbered all the way home about the kids, ("I made a new friend, Arnelle. She wants to be a mushroom when she grows up!"). But mostly she jabbered about Miriam and the stories she wanted to tell, like they had been locked up inside of her somewhere and Miriam was the magical key master.

My daughter writes constantly now, developing characters, plots stories, excels at essays and vocabulary, plays imagination driven role-playing games with the kids in the club and at school. The words are still coming, the tools at her fingertips, on her lips or safely tucked away to find, catch or file them away.

Now I look back on the second grade disaster as actually a blessing in disguise. It is so hard for parents when they can't help their children. So we look for a safe place for our kids, if even for an hour or two. Especially when they might have a broken wing or extra vulnerable souls. Miriam has offered a soft, gentle lap while she magically repairs what ails them, provides guidance and a safe nest when they fly on their own., a place where their words to be safe and to be heard.

I could never minimize what Miriam did for our family that first Sunday afternoon. She understood the trust and has never faltered in the role she has in the lives of these kids. They know they are safe. Period. What they don't know yet, but will when they are parents, is that Miriam is a gift.

- Kate M.

More information

Creative writing clubs available in the Denver area