Monday, October 19, 2009

4 Ways to Inspire a Love of Writing

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 is the first National Day on Writing and the unveiling of the current submissions in the National Gallery of Writing. It’s the day that NCTE asks us “to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives.”

The celebration of writing across the United States this week will draw the attention of students, teachers, and the rest of the world, but how do we sustain this focus on writing? Here are some simple things that you can do to foster a love of writing in children, teens, and adults:

  1. Focus on personal connections.
    Writers need readers. They need someone to connect to what they write. A nod of agreement. A smile. A tear. The slightest gesture can go a long way in telling a writer you understand what she is saying. Once writers begin connecting with people, they realize the true power of writing.

    When you read someone else’s text, connect on a personal level. Make comments that relate your reactions as a reader directly to the writer’s work. You can use sentences like "Your description here reminded me of [some experience you’ve had or something you have seen]” or “I understand how you felt in this section because I had the same thing happen to me.” Don’t be afraid to share your own stories in order to build these connections. The heady buzz that comes when writers connect with readers is what hooks people on writing.
  2. Help writers see choices.
    Writers like to make their own choices. The more control writers have, the more engaged they are in writing. Choice makes writers active participants in the writing that they do. Help writers see the choices they have by connecting writing to the issues and topics that they care about.

    Ask writers to tell you what interests them, what stirs their emotions, or what they can’t do without. For a book talk or movie review, ask what characters they liked or disliked, what parts they identified with, or whether they’d put the piece on their list of “must haves.” For a persuasive slide show or debate presentation, ask them how they feel about the topic or how it affects them personally. Use their responses to help them decide what to write about and to encourage them to get started. When writing is a choice, people become excited and interested in the process.
  3. Recognize all writing as important.
    Every day, people everywhere are writing massive amounts of text. There are to-do lists, short notes left on the refrigerator, email messages to friends, blog entries, status updates on Twitter and Facebook, and more. Too often, people think the only writing that counts is printed on clean sheets of paper. Counter this belief. Remind people that all writing matters.

    Say something when writers update frequently on Twitter, post blog entries, and send out links to their latest web pages. Recognizing writing is as simple as commenting that you read it. Try saying something like “Wow, you were busy. You wrote a lot today” or “That email message you wrote really got me thinking.” Or better yet, don’t say it—reply in writing!
  4. Call people writers.
    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. The simplest and most effective thing you can do to encourage people to love writing is to call them writers. From the beginning, recognize children, teens, and adults as writers. Not "student writers," and certainly not just "students." They are writers, no matter how much they write or how polished their writing may be.

    You are a writer when you believe that you are—and once people believe they are writers, they are on the path to a life-long love of writing.

Make today and every day a day on writing. For more tips on encouraging people to write, check out these great resources:


Ben said...

Excellent post. I try to employ #2 as much as possible. When students ask me for writing help, indubitably I have students that want me to write a sentence for them or change their writing into something that it's not. I always try my best to work with what they have--their word choice and voice etc. Helping them hear their unique voice takes patience, but is so rewarding. It is from there I know they'll be OK. They're writers.

I've posted a reflection on the National Day on Writing here:

and here:

Thanks again for this thoughtful post,


Alicia said...

I am so happy to read your post. I find it quite difficult at times to have some of my students enjoy and connect with their writing. While there are students who excel at this art, many others seem either bored or treat writing as a chore, that they must complete. However, I truly believe that all students have the capability to be writers. Pulling out their inner writer is the trickiest part however keeping in mind your four strategies, it makes me remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to writing instruction, and that each individual can connect and engage in their writing if given the opportunity and support. Thank you for your insight.

Ryan_Tennant said...

I believe that if there is something about writing that attracts you as a character then there is a solid chance of achieving it. Love for any hobby or talent gives you an incredible amount of insight in that certain subject. The part that I think people have trouble with is believing in their work or ideas. So they don't try as hard as they should to actually be existing among other human conscious flow.

If some people let themselves go as far as ego and popularity or whatever else may hold them back then they wouldn't even be afraid of rejection as a writer or anything else. In fact rejection would shift more towards being a good lesson for next time than anything. Which is my dream. I want to inspire people enough to actually follow through with their oh so amazing abstract thinking. Creativity, love, and belief are the most important things to gain if you're serious about the important dreams

Shopnerkotha said...

I like your way. All 4 way is nice. I am here to read your post friend.

paraphrasing website online said...

Those words will indeed help us and would inspire the other writers to take part and do everything whats been asked to do to make your context more preferable and then to moving forward to the point it would indeed bring some valuable points to your dictionary.