That’s the question we posed to our summer writers, kids entering grades three through twelve. There are several of us teaching these kids at our local university this summer, and recently we took them on a writing marathon on an unusually rainy day.
The writers were split into age groups and we toured the campus, stopping along the way to learn about the various sites, then sitting down to write before sharing and moving on.
We stood on a bridge and watched traffic whiz below us, we sat single file in the middle of a palm lined pathway, and we got comfy in plush chairs in the basement of the student union. We also visited the snakes in the life sciences building, discovered a secret garden, and imagined ghosts roaming the halls of one of the oldest buildings on campus.
It was amazing how these experiences unlocked the creativity of the writers. Some included their observations into pieces they had already begun, while others were inspired to write brand new pieces, including several poems and at least two ghost stories.
I took the opportunity to write also, since I told the students that I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I wasn’t willing to do myself. I wrote about the rain, and the students, and what it must be like to live your days in a glass tank, like the snakes we saw. I also wrote about how important it is to slow down and really notice your surroundings. That writing marathon took us all over campus, but the best place it took us was deeper inside our minds.