Our new research shows children’s creative writing during lockdown provides vital support for wellbeing

24 Jun 2020
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Today, we published new research to mark National Writing Day which shows that lockdown has inspired a resurgence in children and young people’s creative writing. This has, in turn, played an important role in supporting children’s wellbeing during this period of uncertainty.

The report, based on our surveys of young people aged 8 to 18 in the UK conducted before and during lockdown, found that more children and young people are writing short stories or fiction (40%), letters (39%), diaries or journals (27%) and poems (21%) in lockdown than they did before.

Many children and young people said they’re writing more because lockdown has provided them with the inspiration and conditions they need to write more creatively, such as having more time and space to think and generate ideas, and having the option to write using digital devices.

Children and young people also said that writing helped them process and cope with feelings of worry, anxiety and uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic. 2 in 5 children and young people said that writing makes them feel better and 1 in 4 said that writing helps them when they feel sad that they can’t see friends and family.

The link between writing and mental wellbeing was further strengthened when children engaged in creative forms of writing. Children who agreed that writing makes them feel better were five times more likely to write poems (66.5% vs 13.4%) and four times more likely to write in a diary or journal (61.9% vs 14.8%) or write a short story or fiction (61.1% vs 15.1%) than their peers who didn’t agree.

The report has been published to mark National Writing Day, the annual nationwide celebration of the pleasure and power of writing and words which is led by First Story and a coalition of charity partners, including the National Literacy Trust, to inspire children and people of all ages and abilities to try writing for fun and self-expression.

This year, the events of the past few months have inspired National Writing Day’s #247challenge – a simple writing call to action to write just 24 words in 7 minutes about their experiences, starting with the prompt ‘One day...’

Much-loved children’s authors including Cressida Cowell (Waterstones Children’s Laureate), Mark Haddon, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Jackie Kay and Laura Dockrill will be leading the challenge on social media.

It is encouraging that so many children and young people are turning to creative writing as a way to make sense of the extraordinary times we are living in. Giving young people the freedom to explore their thoughts and feelings through creative writing can unlock their imaginations, aspirations and academic potential, while providing them with an essential coping mechanism for difficult situations and emotions.

Jonathan Douglas, Chief Executive

To support National Writing Day and inspire more children and young people to get writing at home, we have published a series of free activities, including My Dear New Friend letter writing resources, videos from poets Simon Mole and Laila Sumpton, and advice on how to create your own gratitude journal.