The National Council of Teachers of English has designated October 20 as the National Day on Writing™. So, what are you going to write? Don’t quite know where to begin? True, nothing’s quite as scary as staring at a blank page, but you can do it. Start slow. One sentence at a time. Soon, you’ll have a poem, a journal entry, a story, the first chapter of a novel, or just a really poignant FB post. Go ahead. Unleash your creativity. Put it in writing.
History of National Day on Writing
This day is actually an initiative of the National Council of Teachers of English — built on the premise that writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration. As they see it, people tend to think of writing in terms of “pencil-and-paper assignments,” but 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. For the past 11 years, the group has seen thousands of people share their responses and engage in activities around the theme of #WhyIWrite. Their collective voices are raising the volume on this issue. They are looking forward to their best National Day on Writing yet. 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; andchampioning diversity in literature and the development of culturally relevant teaching practices.
National Day on Writing timeline
The Sumerians of the Akkadian empire developed a writing system based on pressing marks into wet clay using a stylus. Many of these clay tablets survived.
Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented the first commercially sold typewriter. Soon, typed correspondence became the standard for every type of writing except personal correspondence. Typing became an invaluable skill.
Ray Tomlinson, a computer engineer at MIT, sent an email to a computer sitting right next to him. He doesn't remember exactly what he wrote.
The tech boom makes it possible to create a high quality book equal to those produced by traditional publishers. Authors are now able to upload a manuscript, choose a format and a cover, and print as needed. This eliminates the cost of storing unsold copies.
National Day on Writing FAQs
What’s good writing?
Excellent question. Good writing comes in all shapes and sizes — from comic books to The Great Gatsby. Unless it’s a personal journal of some kind, your readers will ultimately decide.
How do I begin to write?
Start small. Make it a habit. Write everyday. Don’t stop. Don’t edit yourself. Just keep going. One page a day. Start tomorrow. Or right now.
How do I start a story?
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. If all else fails, there’s always “It was a dark and stormy night…”
National Day on Writing Activities
Keep track of all the writing you do
Text message? Birthday card? Tweet? Keep track of them all, and find out how much you really write! Share your numbers with friends and see who writes most.
Play some language games
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.
Write something outside your comfort zone
Have you ever written lyrics to a song? A sonnet? A piece of flash fiction? A toast? Venture into an unfamiliar territory, writing-wise, and let those creative juices flow. You may surprise yourself.
5 Wild Word Facts
The longest possible word
That honor goes to "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis", which is a lung disease.
A word that looks the same when turned upside down
That would be "swims."
A word that has all the vowels in alphabetical order
For this one you could choose between "facetious" and "abstemious".
A word that doesn't mean anything
There are several "ghost words" that have appeared in dictionaries thanks to printing errors. The most popular one is "dord," which appeared in several dictionaries in the 20th century.
A word that didn't exist yesterday
Grammarians estimate that a new word is added to the English language every two hours.
Why We Love National Day on Writing
We write more than we think
It's hard to add up how much a person actually writes, but one study showed that the average office worker writes the length of a novel every year — in emails alone! You're probably relying on your ability to write more than you ever considered.
Too many people can't write
One of the purposes of the National Day on Writing™ is to call attention to the fact that, with our workplaces more computerized than ever, writing is a truly valuable skill. Despite this, there are 32 million adults in the U.S. who can't write a simple email — and that number hasn't changed in ten years.
Writing is crucial to identity
Writing isn't just a way to communicate. By writing we tell stories about ourselves, express our emotions, and draw attention to causes that matter to us. It's hard to overestimate the power that a finely honed writer's craft can bring you.
National Day on Writing dates