Creativity at Leesville

Emily Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author, presents her workshop titled ‘Techniques for Storytelling and Tapping into Your Creativity’. Specifically designed for students, her workshop provided tips for students when creating art. (Photo courtesy of Erin Darnell)

On Tuesday October 3, second period English classes gathered in the auditorium to listen to Emily Lockhart — better known as E. Lockhart — a New York Times Bestselling author. Lockhart has written a collection of Young Adult Fiction novels including her most popular book, We Were Liars, and recently released a new novel titled Genuine Fraud. As she travels around the country promoting her new book, Lockhart stopped by Leesville to give a presentation about creativity.

“[I visit] high schools as a way of putting a face on — not only my books — but books in general, [showing students] that they are made by people; and to open up that idea of creators to humanize [them]… And I think that I have something to say about creative life and creativity that is hopefully empowering to young people,” said Lockhart.

During her presentation, Lockhart gave the students tips on ‘tapping into’ their creativity — tips for finding inspiration and inserting emotions to fuel their work. To provide insight, Lockhart went in depth describing her creative process when writing her most recent book, Genuine Fraud. Lockhart explained to the students that she goes through a process of collecting images in photos, artwork, quotes, and other various media as inspiration for her novels.

Tianna Perry, former creative writing student, also finds inspiration in photos, as well as emotions.

“Normally, if something sad happens, or I’m really mad, I’ll write it all down to get it all out of my head and then I’ll try to make it into something. But [I can also find inspiration] in a song that I listen to, or something that I saw; photography also plays an impact in creative writing because you can write about what you see,” said Perry.

One of Lockhart’s key pieces of advice to students was to write about difficult, vulnerable emotions. On one of her slides she included the anecdote “It’s easy to write about safe emotions.” Elaborating further, Lockhart explained that students and struggling writers usually write about easy, stagnant emotions that are commonly overused such as: depression, grief, happiness, romantic love, and contentment. The author wants to challenge writers to be vulnerable with their emotions, and create works based off active emotions.

“I think the vulnerability really comes from [the idea] that it’s my writing…I’m putting my emotions and my thoughts [out there]. When I write, it’s coming from me, it’s what I feel just different characters, different names; but normally it’s something I’ve been through or experienced or seen. I think vulnerability comes from that, not everybody knows that it’s you, but you know it’s you,” said Perry.

Lockhart’s most recent novel deals with her own active emotions of loneliness and rejection. Genuine Fraud is a psychological suspense young adult book following the journey of Jule, a teenage heiress.

As for creative writing at Leesville, students are encouraged to follow their creativity. Maggie Brown was a creative writing student last year. “You can’t get people to think about something if you don’t write something worth thinking about,” said Brown.

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