Improvised creative writing

Image: Doug Robichaud

My father-daughter summer challenge

I’ve been thinking about what I can do with Eloise, my seven year-old daughter, over the summer holidays. I’ve been trying to come up with something that will be both educational and fun. Well, truthfully, mainly fun.

This morning, the idea finally came. Eloise was sitting playing around on my laptop and she said she wanted to do some writing. Instead of leaving her unsupervised to write just anything, I decided to see if she was interested in a creative challenge.

“Why don’t I give you three words, Eloise, and you then use them to write a short story,” I said.

“Oh, yes,” she replied with a smile on her face.

So I gave her three words: cat, France, and wooden-spoon.

And then we both, on the spot, each wrote our own short story inspired by those three words. When we’d finished we then took it in turns to read our stories to each other.

Since she’d enjoyed it so much—and I had too!—we decided to do it again—but this time she got to pick the three words.

She chose dog, frog, and park. And then, as before, we both set about writing a quick story there and then before reading them out to each other.

It was interesting to see how much better her second story was. Having seen what I did with my first story, she instantly had an expanded sense of the possibilities with what she could do with her writing. Story number two had much more colour and description.

And all this from just twenty minutes of fun.

Seeing how much she enjoyed it, we’ve decided this is going to be our summer holiday activity together. We’ll keep taking it in turns to set writing challenges. So far the stories have been short (less then 150 words), but I hope by the end of the summer Eloise will be comfortable writing longer stories. And I hope I’ll be able to keep stretching her imagination and help her to think in ever more creative and unique ways.

I’ve no idea how this will all turn out, but I feel happy that this is an idea that has potential to be both fun and educational, as well as something we can bond over and enjoy spending time together doing.

And though this is something I’m taking on mainly for her benefit, I can already see the benefits for myself of having to do improvised creative writing.

My summer of fiction

A public thank you to my friend Matthew Johnson