Purpose: This project was established by Felicity Keats-Morrison who has a grand vision of building literacy in sub-Saharan Africa. There is an enormous need for literacy in Africa and a lack of suitable material in indigenous languages for children to read. This literacy project is comprised of writing clubs. The aim is to encourage creative writing world wide through skills transfer & the sustainability of writing clubs
The Dancing Pencils Writing Clubs: Clubs are being established comprising of people that are passionate about writing. These writers are coached by a mentor, who has been personally trained by Felicity in her unique right-brain method of creative writing. Mentors run clubs in their areas. Stories are written, shared and the best ones are selected for publishing by umSinsi Press, which is a niche publishing house owned by Felicity. These writing clubs allow people to develop their craft, to share life experiences, and express their feelings in a nurturing environment. Annually they have a book launch which is exciting for the children.
The Benefits: The club system allows for peer evaluation of work and the selection of publication material to remain in the hands of communities. We capture (often for posterity) stories of people from all walks of life for example, stories written by children, which are read by other children. The children writing the books are given the opportunity to be “heard” and recognised, and the children reading them have the opportunity to read about other peoples’ life experiences.
The brain’s activity: Our brains have two halves and these two parts function in different ways. The left brain side of the brain is rational, perfectionistic and logical. The right side of the brain is imaginative, intuitive, creative and lateral. Creative writing entails accessing the right side of the brain.
How: To encourage the right brain, attention is given to freeing the imagination. The inner critic, with its need to “get things right”, is cast aside. Permission is given to ”just writing.” There is no judging and criticizing of content, handwriting, spelling and punctuation. This frees the individual from the blockages of “ought to’s” and surprising material is expressed. People are also encouraged to illustrate their own stories. The right brain has different knowledge from the left brain, and is healing and therapeutic.
The Benefits: People learn how to use their whole brain, and realise the importance of not judging themselves. Many children are the more right-brain types that have difficulty doing regular left-brain, rote- learning school activity. This method affirms and nurtures the potential of the natural artist – it enhances the development of song writers, play writers, poets, artists and authors. It also builds self-esteem and confidence in the aspiring writer. The right brain also has problem solving abilities and is a happy, positive side of a person.