Teen writing group continues to revolutionize creative writing in Fayette County


Shelby Foster

Senior Madison Martin’s teen writing group is an outlet for writers who want to share their work. Opportunities are endless for members of the club. They can create and receive feedback on all kinds of stories. The group meets every third Thursday of the month at the Peachtree City library.

Ashley Irizarry, Staff Writer

After an entire year of growth, senior Madison Martin’s teen writing group is thriving. Since their beginning in September of 2016, there has been an influx of writers county-wide, from Starr’s Mill to McIntosh, Whitewater, and even a home-school student.

I took the members who attended from having nothing at all on paper to having a poem or a short story, or the start of a short story, by the end.”

— Petra Engisch

Trying to develop the club wasn’t an easy task, especially in getting young writers to open up. “At first they were all very nervous to share. I was the only one to share,” Martin says. Because teen writing can be so sensitive and personal, some prodding was needed to get writers out of their shells. To ease the writers into the group, funny objects of interest and prompts were introduced by retired teacher Susan Samson.

Samson also reads excerpts of “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott, to “get us into the mindset to read each other’s stuff and come prepared,” Martin said. Former teacher Petra Engisch strives to help struggling members as well. “From the two sessions that I contributed to over the summer, I took the members who attended from having nothing at all on paper to having a poem or a short story, or the start of a short story, by the end,” Engisch said.

With these fun, creatively-charged activities, teen writers have been more open to sharing their ideas with other members. This leads to a whole group of people with similar interests, giving feedback to one another.

Martin’s club intends to give teen writers an outlet where they feel comfortable enough to come back monthly. All members of the club “should have people they feel comfortable with and trust to read their writing,” Martin said. While they have tried collaborative writing projects in the past, Samson wants to spend more time on individual pieces. “We want to focus more on the individual writing and getting people to open up more,” Samson said. A comfortable, judgement-free environment is a crucial part to Martin’s group, so newcomers have nothing to fear in joining.

The teen writing group is filled with opportunities for both its members and its volunteers. Members get to enjoy writing more “scheduled, routine, excused writing,” Martin said. Martin previously enjoyed the writing classes at Starr’s Mill taught by Jillian Bowen and Justin Spencer. Those classes inspired her to form her teen writing group. “I am fortunate at Starr’s Mill to have a writing pathway created by Spencer and Bowen,” Martin said.

Samson enjoys working with the group because of their high energy and fresh ideas. “The fact that teen writers are filled with fun, fabulous, different ideas that they are unafraid to explore,” Samson said. “There’s so much newness. They have new ideas, new ways of looking at things, and now they’ve found fellow writers,” Engisch said.

Every member who joins has a chance to benefit from this club, which truly has their best interests at heart. “I hope they continue to feel that writing is important, that it helps them think, that they feel unafraid to keep exploring,” Samson said. “They can become fluent in a community that they want to be a part of. I think it’s exciting that they can do this in ninth grade, tenth grade, eleventh grade and beyond. I didn’t have quite as much of an outlet when I was their age,” Engisch said.

Martin has hopes for her young writers, as well. “I hope that they, too, have an opportunity to write and a want to write, and an experience that drives them to want to write more,” Martin said. With so much passion, creativity and dedication, anyone could benefit from Martin’s club and the support system provided by Susan Samson and Petra Engisch.

The teen writers group meets every third Thursday at the Peachtree City Library from 6-7:45 p.m. Their next meeting will be held on Sept. 21.