Are We Celebrating National Day on Writing?
by Elpidio R. Estioko
Do you know that there is a national day on writing? Well, I have been writing professionally for more than 20 years now, but… honestly, I never knew there is a National Day on Writing until I surfed the net!
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has designated October 20 as the National Day on Writing. It marks the annual celebration of writing established in 2009 by NCTE. Well, it’s now November but it’s never too late to find out what the holiday is all about, right?
Its purpose is to bring awareness to the power of writing in our personal, professional and civic lives.
For educators, it’s a day to amplify the exceptional role writing instruction plays in student development at every grade level. For teachers, it marks their day in the classroom writing with their students.
For my fellow journalists from Hawaii, it’s a day recalling their first assignment; their first interview; their first published article; and how to improve their daily reports adhering to editorial policies. For authors, it is a day to reflect on how to improve their writing and think of the next book to write.
For ordinary citizens, it is a day to flex their skills in sending their emails, FB postings, personal correspondence, and the like to reach out to others. So, summing up, writing bridges the gap in humanity!
The day is a good opportunity to discuss with friends, students, and acquaintances about writing: why do we have to write, how to get the facts, how to write, what to write, and how to organize the story. It becomes a teaching moment for all of us!
Per se, writing is different from a three-unit subject in journalism class or English writing class, but the mechanics of writing is the same. All you need to do is write, write again and keep writing. These are the three Ws in writing: write, write, write.
In fact, in my English writing and investigative reporting classes, I emphasize the three things to know: know where the facts are, know how to get them, and go out and get them.
It’s simple yet complex because when we implement these three things, it needs research, organization, planning, evaluation, interviews, analysis, and critical thinking.
So, what are we going to write? We just don’t quite know where to begin, right? True, nothing’s quite as scary as staring at a blank page, so they say, but anyone can do it.
Writers and authors are one in saying, we need to start slow, one sentence at a time, step by step, and taking your time. Without you knowing it, you have a poem, a journal entry, a story, the first chapter of a book, or even just an FB post.
You need to unleash your creativity an innovativeness. Put it in writing! Knowingly or unknowingly, at the end, you have a perfect piece to submit or send. Writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration too!
I learned that no matter who you are, writing is part of your life. It’s part of how you work, how you learn, how you remember, and how you communicate. It gives voice to who you are and enables you to give voice to the things that matter to you. Writing is a part of one’s daily life, whether simple or complex.
Recent NCTE initiatives include creating the first standards for reading, writing, and literacy assessment; defining 21st century literacy and the skills needed to achieve it; developing influential position statements on intellectual and academic freedom; and championing diversity in literature and the development of culturally relevant teaching practices.
In the process, we always aim for good writing. Good writing comes in all shapes and sizes. But how do I begin to write? Writing proponents would say start small, make it a habit, write every day, don’t stop, don’t edit yourself, and just keep writing. The idea is – don’t procrastinate! Do it now!
How do I start a story? Well, there are many ways to start a story. Some ideas include starting with action or dialogue; asking a question; describing the setting; or introducing yourself to readers in a surprising way. It may involve getting the information through dialogues or interviews.
One needs to read between the lines to understand what to right! Look for the hidden points in reading a story or an article. I remember, in one of my investigative reporting classes, I told my students to read between the lines to get what the author is trying to tell the readers. Immediately, one of my students stood up and said: “But sir, there are no words between the lines!”In writing, you need to be investigative, inquisitive, analytic, equipped with a multitude of vocabularies, and must be a wide reader too! This way, you can communicate what you really need to say in writing.
Another thing is to play some language games which will hasten our skills, both in reading and in writing. If not for our writing prowess, we couldn’t participate in spelling bees, scrabble, Scattergories, Taboo, Mad Libs, Hangman, and many others.
Celebrate your word power with a round of your favorite word game. Then, write something outside your comfort zone. Venture into an unfamiliar territory, writing-wise, and let those creative juices flow. You may surprise yourself; you were able to write a prose, a story, and even a book.
On National Day on Writing, we need to be aware that writing is our way of life, from simple to complex life, personal to professional activities, and even in our commercial activities. We need to write and keep on writing… its our way of life!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.