Suffolk children can enter a new writing competition inspired by nature and the great outdoors

PUBLISHED: 12:24 22 May 2019

Wild About Writing

Wild About Writing


Children in Suffolk are being encouraged to explore, enjoy and get inspired by the natural world around them in an exciting new competition called Wild About Writing.

Francesca Amour-CheluFrancesca Amour-Chelu

Initiated by Dramatic Impact and supported by Arts Council England and the National Lottery, Wild About Writing is a Suffolk-based short story writing competition which encourages children aged seven to 13 to write stories inspired by their experiences of the natural environment. It launches on June 26, National Writing Day, and the winning stories will be published in Suffolk Magazine later this year. The competition is the brainchild of Harvey Salmon and Louise Collins, whose creative partnership, Dramatic Impact, is dedicated to inspiring and engaging people in the arts, heritage and conservation.

Wild About Writing brings together the couple's passion for storytelling, enthusiasm for the natural world and commitment to promoting the arts, especially to children.

"We want to encourage children and their families to get outside, to explore and enjoy the amazing natural world around them and to use that experience as a jumping off point for writing a story," says Louise. "We hope that taking part in Wild About Writing will help children see and enjoy the countryside in a new light as well as giving them a chance to find the fun in writing for pleasure." Focused on East Suffolk, where Harvey and Louise live with their two sons, aged seven and 10, Wild About Writing is also a celebration of the county's diverse natural environment, encompassing forests, woods, heaths, rivers, meadows and beaches. It is about enjoying the natural world and enjoying writing. Stories will not be judged on spellings or grammar but on originality, plot, character, overall enjoyment and sense of place or connection with the natural environment.

Author Francesca Armour-Chelu, one of the competition's judges, grew up by the Suffolk coast. The power and impact of the natural environment is central to her books Fenn Halflin and the Fear Zero and Fenn Halflin and the Seaborn. Both are set in a vividly imagined, flooded world, partly inspired by her own childhood living on water meadows in an abandoned Edwardian railway carriage.

James MayhewJames Mayhew

"Children are so often completely absorbed in computers and phones that anything which encourages them to engage with the natural environment is incredibly valuable," she says. "This project will, I think, enrich their understanding of their countryside and perhaps lead them to keep it safe in the future."

The competition's other judges include celebrated children's author and illustrator James Mayhew, who grew up in a small Suffolk village, Suffolk Magazine editor Jayne Lindill, and University of Essex Wild Writing lecturer Dr James Canton, author of the critically acclaimed Ancient Wonderings. He leads the MA in Wild Writing, one of only a handful of taught postgraduate courses in the UK focusing on literature and the environment.

"It's really wonderful to be working with local children as they venture into the natural world and create their own wild writing adventures," he says.

Dr James Canton, lecturer in Wild Writing at the University of EssexDr James Canton, lecturer in Wild Writing at the University of Essex

Children interested in entering Wild About Writing can find extra inspiration from Dramatic Impact by coming along to one of 12 storytelling and workshop sessions being held at libraries in East Suffolk over the summer. Each session will feature a story inspired the Suffolk countryside, written by Louise Collins and told by professional storyteller Harvey Salmon. It will be followed by a workshop on what makes a good story. Support is also on offer at The Halesworth Bookshop which will be hosting a writing workshop led by local writer Sharon Chapman. Dates and details of these events will be published locally and on the Wild About Writing website, which also features useful hints, tips and resources for budding young writers.

Wild About Writing is free. There are two age categories, 7-10 yrs and 11-13 yrs. Stories must be no longer than 500 words. Entries can be submitted online from June 26 - August 31 at

Arts Council LogoArts Council Logo

National Writing Day

National Writing Day, June 26, is an annual project designed to inspire people to get writing. The message is simple: everyone has a story to tell and sharing it can be a source of pleasure and power. This year National Writing Day encourages people to take part in 'Write Away', a seven-minute free writing exercise on the theme of 'Place', real or imaginary. National Writing Day is supported by Old Possum's Practical Trust and Arts Council England.

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