Kids can learn pretty much anything in this town: robotics, swimming, Spanish, circus arts, coding, clothing design–you name it and there's probably a class for it.
Writing, however, is one of those subjects kids get in school, but it also makes for a great extracurricular activity, especially these days with tweens, teens and adults condensing their deepest thoughts to 140 characters or simply captioning a snap.
There are a number of wonderful local programs that help adolescents develop their writing skills, including FREE options. Whether your kid is interested in creative writing, essays, novels, plays, or comic books, these classes are for aspiring (and inspiring) authors.
Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.
The popular 826 NYC offers a robust lineup of FREE classes, from comedy to novel writing. Photo courtesy of 826.
826 NYC – Park Slope
372 Fifth Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets
This nonprofit organization offers free writing workshops for students in elementary through high school. Classes are held in the evenings and on weekends at the Park Slope storefront of the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. Admission is by lottery. Creative workshops are ever-changing, but include things like comedy writing and novel writing, in addition to subject-specific classes. Check its website, as new workshops are added regularly. Since the instruction is free, 826 asks families who are selected to commit to attending every class (generally four sessions), and requires a $25 deposit, which is returned upon completion. The organization gives registration preference to students on the waitlist for its FREE after-school programs, which are offered at two Brooklyn locations, and is introducing an in-school Writer's Room at PS/MS 7 and Global Tech Prep in East Harlem in fall 2016.
Writopia Lab – Upper West Side
155 West 81st Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues
This nonprofit organization runs intimate creative writing workshops in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Westchester. Workshops of six-to-eight students are led by published writers and produced playwrights. Young writers will work together to brainstorm ideas, workshop their pieces and polish final works. Writers can even participate in readings at bookstores, libraries or a local cafe. Programs are offered in age-based groups for young writers as well as teens and varied topics include things such as college essays, graphic novels, playwriting, creative writing, and more. Writopia Lab even offers summer and sleepaway camps and can craft a writer-themed party to celebrate your kid's birthday.
Poets House – Battery Park City
10 River Terrace
If you have a budding poet on your hands, send them to the Poets House's beautiful, light-filled space just steps from the Hudson River in Battery Park City. Not only will they find a poetry library focused on contemporary American works to peruse, but they can also enroll in poetry workshops and summer camps.
Gotham Writers Workshop – Manhattan
You may have heard of Gotham Writers Workshop, but did you know the well-known organization offers teen classes as well as its popular adult programs? Teens can receive instruction in the basics, such as a one-day intensive in proper grammar, or opt to spend time honing their fiction, non-fiction, and playwriting skills. Most classes are held in-person and meet once a week, though there are options to study online too.
New York Public Library – Citywide
The NYPL system offers a wide selection of writing classes from creative writing to memoir writing to classes focused on getting past writers block. NYPL programs often partner with outside organizations such as NY Writers Coalition and the New York Writers Workshop to offer high-quality programming free of charge and many are open to teens ages 13 and older.
This article first published in August 2011 but has since been updated.
Top image: The 826NYC Review, Issue 6, featured 77 works by student authors. Photo courtesy of 826 NYC.