3 Ways to Teach Creative Writing Anytime

Making time for creative writing can be a challenge, especially when you’re trying to hit standards in every lesson. Here are some quick ideas for working in creative writing anytime. These low-prep ideas are easy-to-implement and move students towards your learning targets, including reluctant writers. 

 1. Lower the Stakes to Jumpstart Creativity by Nouvelle ELA

The biggest hurdles my students have with creative writing are 1) getting started and 2) finishing. I’ve found that defining a time frame (10 minutes is perfect!) keeps engagement high. If students only have ten minutes, they know they don’t have time to be perfectionists. I’ve written before about using this strategy of lowering the stakes to get students to write more. Let’s take a look at one way this sparks creativity.

If you start with a prompt that both sparks creativity and allows students to practice a standard, you’ll hit the jackpot. Students can use a song lyric or a snippet from a poem as a jumping off point for flash fiction. Once they’re ready to share and discuss, you can have them consider how they’ve surfaced conflicts or themes from the original piece in their writing. Here’s a free sample of these Poetry & Song Lyrics Story Starters that get students to do just that.

 2. Embrace Social Media by Tracee Orman

Let's face it: most of our students love social media. Instead of fighting it, I like to embrace it and incorporate it in a school-appropriate way. There are several ways you can inspire creative writing tapping into social media. One way is to prompt them to write a series of fictional posts (whether they are Snaps, Instagram posts, or Tweets) that tell a story. Sometimes it's easier for them to wrap their head around short posts that they are used to writing in real life than to conquer an entire short story. They don't actually have to write them on the platform itself; paper and pencil (or a word processing document) will do just fine.

You can use this concept for writing poems, as well. One of my favorite activities is for students to write a Poetweet or a Twaiku. They are simple, short poems based on the Twitter platform. A "Poetweet" is a poem that is limited to either 140 or 280 characters (punctuation and spaces included). A "Twaiku" is a Haiku poem but formatted as a Tweet. I have a free download that you can print & use right away with your students. Download it here and get your students' creative juices flowing!

3. Offer As Many Prompts As Possible by Secondary Sara

There’s almost nothing worse than being forced to write about a prompt or topic that you hate. The minds of enthusiastic writers and reluctant starters alike will grind to a halt if they can’t draw inspiration from the task. 

Choice is key to ownership and buy-in. Though one option is to offer a long list of prompts to choose from, an even more exciting idea is to allow students to choose from a set of possible narrative writing assignments, such as choosing one of five realistic writing projects or choosing from a set of projects in fun genres, including fanfiction. Sharing an element of control (but still meeting standards) gives students more room to get excited and get started. 

(Read more ideas from Secondary Sara in the blog post 18 Tips for Teaching Creative Writing.)

What are your best tips?

How do you engage students in creative writing, even when you're short on time? Leave us a comment and let us know your best tips. :)

Happy teaching!
-Danielle, Tracee, and Sara

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