Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

Creative Writing—So What’s Creativity, and How is it Taught?: Creative Writing Workshops for Teenagers/Young Adults in South Africa

Dr Thomas Van der Walt, Felicité Fairer-Wessels.

Creative writing involves a creative process originating with Plato and Aristotle with interest deepening in the early 19th century with English poets/authors such as Blake, Wordsworth, Miller and Keats debating the philosophy of creativity. Besides a great deal of objective discussion of the creative process chiefly by philosophers, psychologists, and others, a large body of theory of individual insights and processes have accumulated, largely fragmented.

This paper however will focus on the practical implementation of the creative process within the context of writing. This is probably as great a challenge as theorising about the various aspects of creativity. The contribution involves a set of three workshops held in South Africa with the aim to stimulate creative writing amongst a select group of previously disadvantaged young adults – for them to develop the necessary techniques to apply to the developing of creative writings, ie prose, poems, dialogue, film scripts, etc., and develop authentic writings for audiences of their own generation.

This creative writing course was initially developed by five Belgium youth book authors for workshops in their own country. As researchers at the Children’s Literature Research Unit (CLRU) of the University of South Africa (Unisa) we realised the merit of this course and facilitated its presentation during 2002 and 2003 with three sets of hands-on workshops held in Gauteng and Western Cape Province, with funding from the respective governments.

In brief the workshops involved the selecting of appropriate young adults, aged between 16-19 years, with Afrikaans as mother tongue, in order for them to be able to communicate with the Flemish-speaking presenters.

The content of the course focused on aspects such as character-building, poetry, dialogue, flashbacks and sensory experiences, tension and conflict. During the workshops each of the participants were encouraged to develop their own creative texts – some of which will be included as examples in this presentation.

The creative writing workshops have been regarded as a highly successful exercise by the presenters, the participants and the CLRU, as in the creative process a selection of texts have been written/created/developed by the participants that will be published in 2004.


Dr Thomas Van der Walt  (South Africa)
Senior Lecturer
Children's Literature Research Unit, Department of Information Science
University of South Africa

Felicité Fairer-Wessels  (South Africa)

  • Creative writing
  • Workshops
  • Teenagers
  • Children

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)