In 2013 the British Council was approached by CARE International to collaborate on the creative writing component of their YOUth CREATE project bid to the European Union for funding under the ‘Investing in People - Supporting culture as a vector of democracy and economic growth’ programme.
The Unbound Creative Writing project was designed and managed by the British Council as a component of the YOUth CREATE Project with the main aim of developing creative writing skills in writing short stories while addressing themes around identities, diversity, reconciliation, democratisation and conflict resolution.
The project worked with English, Tamil and Sinhala language aspiring writers who took part in creative writing skills development workshops mentored by established creative writers, across districts. 17 selected short stories have been compiled and published as a trilingual collection by Sarasavi Bookshop. Author readings of the selected short stories were held at the WINGS Arts and Culture Festival in Killinochchi, Ampara and Colombo for the public to interact with the writers. ‘WINGS’ was a festival celebrating diversity, organised by the YOUth CREATE Project and was held in November 2016 showcasing the creative writing and other YOUth CREATE cultural products.
In addition, all of the work which was produced as a result of this project is published as a digital collection https://unboundcreativewritingblog.wordpress.com. This platform carries 57 stories written by the young aspiring writers from the districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Batticaloa, Monaragala, Galle, Colombo, Kandy and Rathnapura.
130+ young aspiring writers across the 3 mediums benifited from the creative writing skills development workshops with 86 engaging with the full course and the remaining following a shorter upskilling session.
The nationally acclaimed Sri Lankan creative writers who were mentors on this project were Lal Madewattegedara, Ameena Hussein, Delon Weerasinghe, Sunethra Rajakarunanayake, Piyaseeli Wijemanna, Nissanka Wijemanna, Ayathurai Santhan, K Sivakumaran and Sopa Pathmanathan.
The creative writing materials development workshop with the mentors was facilitated by UK creative writer Julia Paul in Colombo and the digital platforms used in the project were created by Udhara de Silva, creative digital media consultant.
The full length course workshops covered the following sessions;
- What is a short story
- The principles of good writing
- Creating a character
- Point of view
- Writing with all the senses
- Giving feedback
- Treating everyone's work with respect
- Examples from local and international writing
- Practical experience in using digital tools like google docs, SLACK networking and WordPress platforms to create, communicate, network and promote ones work in the creative writing process.