Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Pull of Writing On- and Offline

Considering that children and adults from age 4 to 90 have access to smart phones and interactive computer pads that encourage quick and easy creative expression, does this ease motivate former non-writing writers to write again?

I come by this question naturally, because my teenage son who says he hates to write is writing a 1.500 page book spurred by Google documents and the worlds created in the visual games he plays. From what I understand, because he won't let me read it, he describes actions and his characters vividly. He's also gathering readers.

He also tells me that he will finish this first "book" before I stop rewriting and editing my first science fiction novel. As a direct challenge, it is more than welcome. Although publishing is not the only reason to write, writing teachers (they can also be reading ones) have recognized the opportunities for students of all ages to publish online or in local papers or magazines. The National Writing Project at provides a thorough overview of this issue, although it also touts its writing programs and consulting service. 
Unfortunately, in many schools throughout the U.S., the emphasis is on reading and math, not the writing that would help both learning areas. Less than a quarter of  American 12th graders were proficient in  written expression in two studies, in 2002 and 2007, sponsored by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The remedies, culled from years of studies, include:   students analyzing models of good writing; explicitly teaching students strategies on how to plan, revise and edit their work; students collaboratively using these writing strategies; and students receiving specific goals for each writing project. This study can be found at

In terms of inspiration, this knowledge is useless, at least to me. I have seen young students who write outside such boxes get discouraged because teachers cannot differentiate. On the other hand, all of us could use the basic tools this study describes to frame our forays outside these far too restrictive walls.

Also, for those of us who write because it is a creative expression of our inner imaginings, it may still be necessary to create more standard pieces to survive and to grow. That is where all these studies come in. Doesn't it make you feel good to know that you may be in the quarter of those students who can write, or that despite not being in that quarter of students thought of as good writers, that you still write, and write well?

In other words, at some point you became a writer despite all odds against, or for you. Celebrate that knowledge.

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