Ever felt like you have a novel in you? Or maybe it’s a screenplay, a short story, a song, or a poem?
This September, Sydney Story Factory‘s inaugural Pen to Paper Challenge is encouraging everyone across Australia to get their creative juices flowing and just write. Commit yourself to a writing project for the month, whatever it may be, get your friends and family to sponsor you and raise money for a charity that is doing amazing things for at-risk kids.
The Sydney Story Factory is a not-for-profit creative writing centre for young people in Redfern, co-founded by 2016 Australian of the Year Local Hero, Cath Keenan. It runs a wide range of fun and free creative writing and storytelling programs for young people aged 7 to 17, particularly those from marginalised backgrounds. Under the guidance of its expert storytelling team, volunteer tutors work with young people one-on-one or in small groups, giving them the personal attention to their writing even the best teachers cannot provide. The effect can be transformative, helping young people find their voice and returning them to school with the tools and confidence essential for future success. You can learn more and donate to Sydney Story Factory here.
The Pen to Paper challenge is for all ages, and definitely not just ‘serious’ or professional writers. It’s like the City to Surf, for those who’d rather write than run! Absolutely anyone can get involved, and they’ll get writing tips, advice and messages throughout the month of September from writing experts (including Story Factory students) to keep motivation high. Halfway through, on the 17th of September, participants can head to the heart of Redfern for a ‘Survival Salon’ that will include speed dating with writer and editor experts, panel discussions where Pen to Paper ambassadors will share their own writing habits and hints for successfully putting pen to paper, and more fun besides.
Multi award-winning children’s author Jackie French says she is supporting the challenge “because stories DO change lives and the world…as a homeless teenager Jane Eyre taught me that even if no one else cared for me, I should keep my integrity.” She’s committed to writing a 20,000 novel due to her publisher by the end of the month – support Jackie here. If Jackie can do that, you can absolutely finish a chapter, an article, a letter – or any writing project you choose.
Or why not be inspired by Benjamin Law? He’s accepted the Pen to Paper challenge, and is planning to write the second season of his hit show The Family Law in record time. Because he’s a volunteer, Ben has seen first-hand how the Sydney Story Factory helps young people by demonstrating “the importance of their own stories”. Support Ben here.
Other ambassadors include: Zohab Khan (Australian Poetry Slam champion), Patrick Lenton (blogger and author of A Man Made Entirely of Bats), Fiona MacFarlane (author of The Night Guest), Larissa Behrendt (academic and writer, most recently author of Finding Eliza) and Justine Clarke (actor, singer, children’s music artist, author and presenter) – so you’re part of a great crew.
Not only can you feel the smug self-satisfaction of completing a (possible) work of art, but you’ll have helped the Sydney Story Factory to improve literacy skills, boost confidence and help young people find their voice. Now that’s something to write about.