Tuesday, October 20, 2009 is the first National Day on Writing and the unveiling of the current submissions in the National Gallery of Writing. Its 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:
- 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 elses text, connect on a personal level. Make comments that relate your reactions as a reader directly to the writers work. You can use sentences like "Your description here reminded me of [some experience youve had or something you have seen]” or “I understand how you felt in this section because I had the same thing happen to me.” Dont 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.
- 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 cant do without. For a book talk or movie review, ask what characters they liked or disliked, what parts they identified with, or whether theyd 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.
- 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, dont say it—reply in writing!
- Call people writers.
Ive 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: