During the pandemic last year, juniors Alice Lavan and Kelsey Blickenstaff contacted Bradley Baum, sophomore English and AP Language & Composition teacher, about starting a creating writing club.
“I likely mentioned early on in the year that I am passionate about creative writing, and spoken word poetry in particular, which garnered that initial interest,” Baum says. “[Lavan and Blickenstaff] do a wonderful job of running and facilitating the club.”
“We couldn’t find a club dedicated to just creative writing, so we decided to start looking for a sponsor and make one ourselves,” Blickenstaff explained.
Every Wednesday, from 3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., the 20-plus members divide into groups to try different styles of writing, explore genres and practice character and world-building. Not only do these activities improve writing skills, but they also strengthen relationships and the overall sense of community. Members can be found eating Lavan’s homemade cookies, chatting and, during the holidays, making Secret Santa cards.
“My favorite part about the club is the activities we do,” junior Yudora Petraitis says. “They usually involve working with a small group and doing something creative; it’s just really fun.”
On top of these workshops, members will spend time working on their own personal writing pieces. The club has a very active Google Classroom where Lavan and Blickenstaff share presentations and prompts, often dividing activities for those who have WIPs (works in progress) and Non-WIPs. WIPs apply to the club members who are working on longer pieces, while non-WIPs apply to students who are not currently crafting a long-form piece of writing. Petraitis is an example of a writer with a WIP, as she has been working on her fantasy novel for a little over a year.
“I find it’s the easiest to write [fantasy], as I’m allowed to create a world where I get to make all the rules,” Petraitis explains. “After a few years of building a world and characters, I had a general idea of what I wanted my plot to be, so I started writing a very basic outline with a plot and chapters set out. Then, I just started writing in accordance to the plot and chapters.”
Petraitis notes that she doesn’t stick religiously to her layout; instead, she edits and evolves her story as it goes on.
Another WIP writer, sophomore Shay Hecker, describes a different writing process. While Petraitis works from a general idea to an outline then to a draft, Hecker prefers simply to write and revise.
“I try to write at least 2,000 every day, spit out a first draft in a couple of months, take a four-to-six week break and write something else, then come back for draft two,” Hecker explains.
Though writing styles may vary, there is one thing the writers agreed on: the Creative Writing Club’s community is what keeps them coming back every time. Whether it’s the helpful feedback from others, the writers seem undeniably supportive of one another. This is a space where they can feel free to experiment in all sorts of ways.
“It’s a casual space of people that are just really genuine and cool to be around,” junior Zach Rubinic notes.
Some, like Jacob Gaston, take advantage of the club’s prompts when writing their pieces. Others take inspiration from established authors, such as Hecker, whose writing and revising process is similar to Stephen King’s. Many enjoy reading fantasy, horror, science fiction and historical fiction; they often channel their love of reading a genre into writing that genre.
“I’m consistently coming up with ideas just on the spot,” says Rubinic, who joined the club to write songs.
In terms of the aspects of writing that appeal to the members of Creative Writing Club, the members had a variety of thoughts.
“Oh God, what about writing doesn’t interest me?,” Hecker exclaims. “Everything, of course, but, most of all, I think it’s insane how I could make a few marks on a piece of paper, and suddenly you’re looking at an image I’ve procured in my mind without either of us having to say a single word to each other.”
Meanwhile, Petraitis enjoys storytelling.
“[I like] being able to tell a story. I just watch it unfold and evolve as it goes on,” Petraitis says.
Often, club members will just write to express themselves, but others have loftier ambitions. “My original goal was to be published before age 16, but COVID-19 sort of screwed that plan up. New goal: finish my current novel and find an agent who will take it sometime in 2022,” Shay explains.
“My main writing goal is to finish telling the story in its entirety, which will be across the span of three books, and to get them published along the way,” Petraitis agrees. Perhaps when these members are successful writers one day, they will have, in part, the Creative Writing Club to thank.
Whatever interests you about writing, and whether or not you are a seasoned writer, ETHS’s Creative Writing club provides a community where you can improve your writing process, collaborate with others, find inspiration, build on your interests and set goals.
“I’m very glad that I found such a cool space,” sophomore Jexa Edinberg acknowledges. And if that’s not appealing to you, there are always fun games to play and pastries to gorge on.