Young adult fantasy author J.R. Fehr posing with a group of children in a school the Philippines..

Advice to Young Writers in the Philippines

Writing should be fun!

This month, I had the opportunity to visit the Philippines (which felt a lot like the real life version of O’Ceea, the magical world in my series The Magician’s Workshop.) I went to visit the family of my girlfriend and to experience the culture there. Within the first few days, I was presented with an unexpected experience.

A friend of my girlfriend is a teacher, and asked if I’d be willing to speak at her school, to the grade 6 and 7 classes. Of course, I said yes.

There were about forty kids in total who were learning about creative writing. This was an amazing experience, as I was able to share about the fundamentals of storytelling as well as encourage them in their pursuit of writing. The kids had prepared questions for me, and some of them were really good! Here are a few examples:

  • How do you come up with your writing ideas? Is it based on past experiences?
  • What key elements do you use to write fantasy fiction stories?
  • Is there a trick you do to be able to get a good base/foundation for your story?
  • How do you make supernatural creatures have human feelings?
  • How do you write from the perspective of another gender?
  • Which is the best way to go: typical fairy-tale happy endings or sci-fi like twists?

I had about an hour to spend with these kids and there was a lot to go over. But the main thing I wanted them to understand is that writing should be fun. It shouldn’t be about “coming up with the best or most unique story possible” but rather it should be a fun experience where they can be creative and express some aspect of their soul. I tried to encourage them not to worry about getting everything perfect but to just enjoy the experience of being creative and coming up with something they love. I wanted to encourage these kids to go explore and share about the wonder they find in life, and I wanted to help them find freedom from the stress of trying to be the best writers.

I’ve had a lot of experiences with public speaking, but there’s nothing quite like interacting with a group of kids who are actually interested and engaged in learning. One of the main reasons I want to write novels is because I desire to encourage and inspire children to seek the joy and wonder of life.

I’m so thankful to have had this experience, and I hope I’ll be able to do more things like this in the days ahead. Maybe, just maybe, my words will help these kids have fun, experience more of life, and grow in the knowledge of themselves as they develop their skill as writers.

A certificate of appreciation presented to J.R Fehr from Keys School in Manila, Philippines.

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