writing for pleasure

“She’s loving all the work you’ve been setting recently.  Except the writing.”  This was something I heard several times when speaking to parents during the lock-down.  It worried me.  I’d worked hard to plan work that was engaging and creative.  But these children had learnt to dislike writing before they got to age 6, and it wasn’t going to be easy to convince them otherwise.

Writing falls into two broad camps.  Writing to communicate, and writing for pleasure.  

Writing as a form of communication

is things like:

  • Reports for the boss
  • Information texts
  • Instructional texts like recipes
  • Letters, emails, texts and tweets
  • Newspaper and magazine articles and blog posts.

It’s important when you are writing for communication that you follow the rules of grammar and spelling and the expected form of the genre.  This ensures that the person / people reading your writing gets the meaning from it that you intended.

Writing for pleasure

is just for you.  It’s writing because you want to, as a form of expression.  This might be:

  • Journalling,
  • Poetry
  • stories

When we are writing for pleasure, it isn’t so important whether anybody else can read it because it isn’t for anybody else.  Just for you.

Clearly, there’s an overlap.  We can take great pleasure in writing for communication and I certainly enjoy writing my blog and writing a good letter.  In addition, stories and poetry intended for publication must be clear and adhere to those same rules as writing for communication.


The sad thing is that children in school are missing out on writing for pleasure.  Before they even reach age 5 they are supposed to have moved on from the delightful emergent writing “mark-making” stage to writing “simple sentences that can be read by themselves and others” (EYFS Framework, England).  From this point on they are taught phonics and an ever increasing repertoire of grammatical terminology.  By the end of Key Stage 1 (age 6-7) children’s writing is being assessed on their ability to spell, to form neat handwriting, to write narrative, to use punctuation and tense and subordinate clauses.


The focus on the technical aspects of spelling, handwriting and punctuation is great from a writing for communication perspective (though when, as an adult, you would ever need to know whether you have used the present progressive or present perfect tense is beyond me) but for many children it has led to writing being a chore.  I’ve seen teachers recommending almost a formulaic approach – “Open your first sentence with a simile.  Make sure your next sentence has a subordinate clause.”  Even I have ended up saying, “Check, have you included a question mark yet?  If not, try to get a question in the next couple of sentences,” as I’ve tried to tick the Assessment tick-boxes that say that the child needs to use a range of sentence types.  Children are taught the structure and form of different genres, without the real sense of purpose that goes with them.  Teachers do their best to make their lessons fun and purposeful.  I’ve seen a Reception classroom with a “crashed spaceship” in the corner where the children are busy writing letters to the missing alien.  The headteacher claimed that the local council were planning to extend the leisure centre next door and we would lose half the playground so the whole school could write persuasive letters to argue why this shouldn’t happen.  However, with such a focus on getting the technical aspects right, it is very hard to help children discover the pleasure of writing spontaneously and creatively.

Because that’s the difference.  Writing for pleasure needs to be an intrinsic form of self expression – it can’t be an externally dictated exercise.

A simple answer

I covered an absence in one school where each child had a “journal”.  The end of the afternoon on Friday was journal time.  They had been bought beautiful notebooks.  During that time on the Friday afternoon they were asked to fill a page or two of their journals.  These were private and were not collected in, though if they wanted some feedback they could leave it on the teacher’s desk.  They could write or draw or both.  They could use fancy pens and colours.  They were not told what to write, though there was a list of prompts to help them if they were stuck for an idea.  These children all loved their “journal time”.  I saw beautifully illustrated poetry, short stories, diary entries and comic strips, a recipe for a good friend.  What I loved was that these children were putting into practice the technical and structural features they had been learning in their Literacy lessons, but they were doing it in a way that was completely theirs.  They were learning that writing can be pleasurable and creative.  

To read more:

Writing for Pleasure course for 8-11 year olds

I offer a 5 day “Writing for Pleasure” course for 8-11 year olds to rediscover the pleasure of writing as a creative art.  I guide the children through different genres, exploring and playing with form.  The course is made of 5 x 30 minute exploratory sharing sessions:

  1. Short stories
  2. Poetry
  3. Journaling
  4. The writing community – sharing your writing
  5. Improving our writing

There are no “homework tasks” from these sessions and children are encouraged but not compelled to share their writing.  The atmosphere is fun and supportive.  Click here to find the dates and sign up for the next course.

18 thoughts on “Writing for Pleasure – helping children discover the joy of creative writing

  1. I just could not depart your site prior to suggesting that I really loved the usual information a person provide to your visitors?

    Is gonna be back incessantly to inspect new posts Its
    such as you read my mind! You seem to understand so much about this, such as you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with some p.c. to drive the message
    house a bit, however instead of that, that is excellent
    blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back. These are in fact wonderful ideas in on the topic of blogging.
    You have touched some fastidious points here. Any way
    keep up wrinting. http://porsche.com

    Also visit my web site; Jane

  2. Hello there! This post could not be written any better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept talking about this. I’ll forward this information to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My brother suggested I might like this web site.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day. You can not
    imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  4. Somebody essentially assist to make critically articles
    I might state. That is the very first time I frequented your website
    page and up to now? I amazed with the research you made to create this particular publish incredible.
    Magnificent task!

  5. Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to grap so
    much about this, like you wrote the guide in it or something.
    I think tat you can do with a few % tto power the message
    home a bit, however instead of that, this iis grea blog.
    A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

  6. First off I would like to say fantastic blog!
    I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear
    your thoughts before writing. I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there.

    I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying
    to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or
    hints? Appreciate it!

  7. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.

    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Cheers

    Feel free to surf to my web page; special

  8. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great information I was looking for this information for my mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>