If there can be a National Ice Cream Day, National Sibling Day, National Coffee Day (which I celebrate daily), and National Bunsen Burner Day, why not have a National Writing Day? While most people associate writing with high school or college English classes and break out into a cold sweat thinking about MLA formatting, red pens, and the all-too-common comma splice errors, writing is something that should be valued and even celebrated, and October 20th celebrates writing. Happy National Writing Day, friends, students, and English nerds!
Why is writing so important for the next generation or on a bigger scale the non-English major in general? I’m glad you asked. (I really recognize that you didn’t ask, but this is a game I play regularly in Room 128 so humor me please).
Writing is more than putting words on a page. Writing is a way of formally organizing thoughts, choosing the most perfect words to communicate these thoughts, and arranging these perfect words in a logical – or illogical if you’re trying to make a point – way to express emotions, ideas, or give instruction. Writing is a gift.
How then can we help the next generation not only accept but appreciate the gift of writing? When your student is faced with a writing assignment, don’t launch into a discourse on how you hated high school English (or worse your high school English teacher) rather encourage him or her with these benefits of writing:
Writing slows a person down long enough to ponder, reflect, consider, conclude, and imagine. In this fast-paced, image-driven, #hashtag-140 character society, no one will argue that students need to slow down, take a deep breath, and reflect. Writing offers an avenue to do this.
Writing can help you become a better reader. The relationship between reading and writing is intertwined. The more you read, the better you write. The more you write, the better you read. They go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong (my apologies – I am taking cold medicine and feeling loopy).
Writing helps us learn how to think because we are forced to organize thoughts.
Writing offers an opportunity to become more self-disciplined.
Writing often serves as a conduit for action. Taking the time to put something in writing is often the first step for making it happen.
So how exactly should you encourage your student (or maybe yourself) to write outside of school?
Create writing. Whether it be plays, short stories, or poetry, most children love expressing themselves creatively. Encourage and foster this love before they are surrounded by the “I hate writing” naysayers.
Journal. Journal about vacations, daily happenings, or life lessons. I plan on having my seniors journal on their last semester in high school and save it for the future.
Blog. Start a family blog and have each family member take turns writing. Not only does this encourage family togetherness, but it serves as a way for extended family and friends to keep up with you.
Letters. Write letters for birthdays, Christmas, or any milestone which deserves celebration.
Set aside time this week to write, encourage your students to do the same, and reap the benefits of this gift.
Happy National Writing Day!