Alison Gorman is the owner of Inkling Writing Studio. Reading and creative writing have been lifelong passions for Alison, but she credits her older child with encouraging her to take her creative writing further and set up a business that offers fun, imaginative creative writing classes for children. Inkling Writing Studio offers afterschool and Saturday weekly creative writing classes during the school term as well as school holiday workshops. Alison believes strongly in the myriad of benefits creative writing can bring to children, such as improving writing skills, communication and problem-solving skills, providing time and space for kids to imagine and express their ideas and greater self-confidence.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My husband and I moved to Sydney 22 years ago from Melbourne. We live in Hunters Hill with our two teenage boys and two dogs. I am a passionate reader with a constant pile of books on the go and I have always loved to write. I still have my 1976 Holly Hobby journal which recounts my chance meeting with Colonel Sanders in an airport (true story) and a box full of plays I typed as a teenager on my dad’s Remington typewriter. My other passions are listening to music, hiking, swimming and travel.
Tell us a bit about Inkling Writing Studio.
The Inkling Writing Studio offers fun, imaginative creative writing classes for children. I believe that children flourish in supportive environments, where there is time and space to imagine and express ideas freely. I was inspired to start a writing studio during my time teaching creative writing to primary school-aged children at Ku-Ring-Gai Arts Centre. During the three years I worked there, I came to understand the myriad of benefits creative writing has for children.
In addition to improving writing skills, creative writing helps children to practise using their imaginations. This contrasts with the highly scheduled lives of many children, cluttered with digital distractions. I am always moved by the calm joy that arrives in a room of children who are absorbed in writing a story or poem. One boy told me recently he liked writing “because it is quiet”. I have also found children improve in communication, self-confidence as well as planning and problem-solving skills. Children learn empathy by imagining what it would be like to be someone else.
What did you do prior to establishing Inkling Writing Studio?
Originally, I practised as a speech pathologist and worked with young adults in a brain injury rehabilitation program. After we moved to Sydney and started a family, I stopped work and did a number of short courses on writing. I went back to university and completed a Master of Creative Writing in 2014. I loved every subject, especially the poetry workshops which were taught by Judith Beveridge who has just won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for poetry last week! After I finished my Masters, I volunteered for two years at Story Factory which runs fantastic creative writing workshops for children all around Sydney. Then the opportunity to teach creative writing at Ku-Ring-Gai Arts Centre came along and the rest is history.
What inspired you to return to your childhood passion of creative writing?
When my eldest son Sam was in Year 2 and starting to write stories at home, I would hover, make suggestions and interrupt him. It clearly bugged him. One day he said to me, ‘Mummy, why don’t you go and write your own story?’ So, I did.
Can you explain more about the workshops?
Inkling offers afterschool and Saturday weekly creative writing classes during the school term at Paper Rock Scissors Art Studio in Rozelle. I also run school holiday workshops for children aged 7–12 years in Hunters Hill.
During the weekly classes, I introduce a range of poetry activities, word quizzes and games and a story craft program where children learn skills and strategies to improve their narrative writing skills. At the end of term, I invite parents in for the last half-hour of the class for a reading of stories and poems. I run a range of school holiday workshops which focus on different genres of story writing. Mystery Mayhem, The Imaginarium (fantasy), Funny Bones (comedy) and Time Travellers (historical fiction).
What can participants and their parents expect from the workshops?
The children can expect to enjoy writing in an Inkling workshop. They can expect time and freedom to explore their own story and support when they are feeling less confident. Children can expect to feel proud of their writing published in our class book. Parents can expect their children to love coming to classes, improve their writing skills and show more interest and confidence to write at home and school. If they are quiet, they often become a chatterbox as their confidence grows!
How can parents encourage their kids to engage more in reading and writing?
I think routines are very helpful for children. Read with your child before bed. Encourage storytelling at the family meal table (the more outlandish, the better). Make friends with your local librarian, visit often and ask them for suggestions for your child. Start your own reading challenge at home with a visit to a bookshop as a reward. There are some great journals available for kids. Buy one before your next holiday. Pair it with a novelty pen. Try a pompom pen, invisible ink pen, feather quill or a pen that lights up. Perhaps your young writer could help you write a family Christmas letter or find a pen pal.
Is there a book or podcast that has inspired you recently?
I love listening to book podcasts. My favourite one is Books on the Go with Anna Baillie-Karis.
I am reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. It is so unique and enjoyable – I can’t put it down!
As a mother, what advice can you offer new parents?
Make time every day to enjoy your child. Listen and play. Read and talk together. Take time for you too and make sure you ask for support when you need it.
Favourite places in the Inner West?
Roaring Stories bookstore in Balmain. Knowledgeable, attentive staff and packed with great books, including an extensive selection for children.