Creative writing is important for young people – it gives students the opportunity to express themselves, process thoughts and feelings in a non-intimidating way, and gain understanding of their creative identities. Plus, it’s fun! And the next JK Rowling, George RR Martin or Stephen King could be sitting in your classroom today.
Tomorrow, April 10th, is ‘Encourage A Young Writer Day’ – a day to celebrate young people putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and to support young writers in their endeavours.
Not sure how you be supporting your budding authors? Here are 7 of our favourite bits of writing wisdom that you can share with them tomorrow.
1. Read, read, read
Writers can never read too much. They should read all the good stuff, all the bad stuff, all the stuff they want to read, and all the stuff they don’t want to read too. It’s hard to know what makes a piece of prose that people love (or hate!) until you’ve experienced it yourself.
Even theory, newspapers, and the text on food packaging can teach a writer something new. Why not host an unconventional reading challenge in your class? What’s the most interesting non-novel text your students can find?
2. Listen to other writers’ tips
Hundreds of writers have written books on writing, and trust them, they know what they’re talking about. If your students are old enough, let them loose in the library to look for an author’s book on writing such as ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King, ‘10 Rules for Good Writing’ by Elmore Leonard or even ‘Writing Fiction for Dummies.’
Can they pick out one or two top tips to use in their own writing?
3. Write, write, write
Just like writers can never read too much, there’s a pretty good chance they can never write too much either. Encourage students to write about anything and everything – it doesn’t always have to be a novel. It can be a short story, a recollection of a trip to the supermarket, or a transcript of a conversation they overheard.
Anything can turn out to be inspiration for a writer's next big idea. Plus, remind students that what they write doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try. Just getting started is a win in itself, and could be the first step to something amazing.
4. Finish what you start...
Even if it’s not good. Don’t let your students get too into the habit of abandoning stories and pieces of writing – it means they’ll get great at beginnings, okay at middles, but bad at endings.
That doesn’t mean the endings need to be poignant and perfect – just getting something finished is a huge achievement and will remind students that if they did it once, they can do it again.
5. Be as grammatical as possible
Encourage students to do their best possible work when writing, even if it means having someone else read over it afterwards to check for spelling and grammar mistakes. A writer who takes pride in their work will go far.
6. Don’t forget about your other hobbies
A writer can’t just be a writer. A writer whose main character is a surfer, usually needs to be a surfer too (or at the very least have tried it a few times!) Writing about what you know is easier than writing about what you don’t, so encourage students to keep trying and learning about new things to help bring their stories to life.
Encourage budding authors to think of trying new hobbies as field research – they might just find their new protagonist in their weekend adventures.
7. Listen to, but don’t be discouraged by, criticism
Accepting criticism is hard, but it’s a super important part of being a writer. Encourage students to listen to what others have to say, think about it, and thank them. It’s okay to feel a little disappointed, but even the best writers need other people to tell them what works and what doesn’t.
Why not share some of Writer’s Edit’s ‘Top Tips for Dealing with Criticism of Your Writing’ with students who are struggling to work with it?
There we have it – 7 top tips to share with your budding authors on Encourage a Young Writer Day.
Have a great (and creative, of course) day!