Saturday, December 4, 2010


Over the many years that I have taught creative writing to teens and children, I’ve discovered that the biggest obstacle to writing well is attitude. For the most part, this blog aims to stop the negative attitudes about writing that are passed from one generation to another – negativity that stunts the imagination and shackles the human spirit. It is also about how to foster within your child a love of the written word as a means of expressing his deepest and fondest desires.

Writing is more than letters of the alphabet or words on a page. It is the second most important means by which humankind communicates with itself, the first being speech. In generations past, an individual who could not communicate effectively with others was considered ignorant, uneducated, and unintelligent. Today, poor language skills are trendy and are representative of a culture that relies on abbreviated tweets and posts as forms of communication.

The National Writing Project states in their report, Because Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Our Schools, “In today’s business world, writing is a ‘threshold skill’ for both employment and promotion. In a 2004 survey of 120 major American corporations, respondents emphasized that people who cannot write and communicate clearly will not be hired and are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion.”

Those who speak and write well are confident in themselves, obtain higher levels of education, earn more money in the workforce, and often become the leaders in our society. According to the College Board’s National Commission on Writing, two-thirds of salaried workers in large U.S. companies are required to write, yet over three billion dollars are spent annually in trying to improve employees’ poor writing skills.

Good writing skills are also critical to academic success. Therefore, by helping your child develop effective written communication skills, he will one day find himself in that ever shrinking pool of qualified college and/or job applicants who rise, like cream, to the top. Even if your child chooses to remain outside the mainstream workforce by being an entrepreneur or a stay-at-home parent, his excellent writing skills will always play a valuable role in his life.

Research cited in Because Writing Matters shows that writing helps develop thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, utilizing writing in all academic subjects aids in the retention of knowledge and improves reading skills. According to the National Writing Project, “if students are to learn, they must write.”

Good writing demands an open mind and a positive attitude. Without them, writing becomes a chore, or worse, an assignment. While there is nothing wrong with writing assignments, there is something fundamentally distasteful about turning a child off to writing.

My intention is to help you, the parent and/or teacher, to help your child discover the joy of writing. Once the door to good writing is flung open, all the barriers and blockades that trip up the rest of us will vanish for your child. He will become an “I can” person, and the wonderful side effect is that, as his parent and/or teacher, you will, too.

[1] Because Writing Matters, p. 17
[1] ibid. p. 22
[1] ibid. p. 104

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