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5 Ways to Celebrate the National Day on Writing

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1. A Writing Open House

Invite participants to mix and mingle as they create and compose. These events often work best when there are several stations where people can rove and respond to different writing prompts and activities. Be sure to take pictures and share what is created (with permission) on social media spaces, tagging posts with #WhyIWrite.

Suggested Timeframe: 1-3 hours

Location: School, library, community center, writing center, coffee shop, etc.

Materials:

  • Many different kinds of writing instruments
  • Many different surfaces for writing
  • Music to add to the festive feel
  • Snacks

Examples of Stations:

  • Clip words and phrases from magazines to create “found poetry.”
  • Provide a writing prompt and have participants write on sticky notes that they put on a wall.
  • Write 6-word stories about a compelling photograph.

 

2.Open Mic Storytelling or Poetry Event

Invite participants to share original work and an audience to come hear the readings.

Suggested Timeframe: 1-2 hours

Location: Room big enough to have a “stage” area for presentations and plenty of room for an audience.

Materials:

  • Microphone / Speakers / Amplification System
  • Snacks

Things to Consider:

  • Increase attendance by inviting local poets or storytellers to headline the event.
  • Consider showcasing a local school slam poetry team.
  • If possible, plan the sequence of presenters in advance and have someone serve as the MC. This will help the event to flow.

 

3. A Write-In on a Specific Topic

Create a thematic writing event that focuses on a specific cause or issue. Begin the event by exploring the purpose of the writing and leading a discussion around the issue. Provide ample time and supplies to support participants in doing and sharing the writing. Examples of products might include letters to the editor, cards to people in the military, emails/messages to legislators, posters for an awareness campaign, etc.

Suggested Timeframe: A few hours up to a full day

Location: This can be done school- or community-wide, or in a single location where many can gather.

Materials:

  • Writing instruments
  • Fact sheets about the issues participants will be addressing in their writing
  • Postcards, cards, stationery, or computers with printers
  • Stamps and envelopes (if mailing the pieces written)

Read a detailed description of one approach to a Write-In developed by Holly Hassel, editor of Teaching English in the Two-Year College and professor at North Dakota State University, drawing from resources written with Amy Lueck, Jeff Andelora, and Carolyn Calhoon-Dillahunt.

 

4. A Twitter Chat

Energize the social community with a scheduled online chat that everyone joins at the same time. Plan questions in advance (5-6 for an hour-long chat) and post them to the chat at regular intervals during the discussion. Key takeaways from the discussion can be shared in a follow-up blog post.

Suggested Timeframe: 30 minutes to one hour

Location: On Twitter! Select a unique hashtag that everyone follows at a scheduled time.

Materials:

  • Internet-connected device
  • Collection of online resources that can be shared during the chat

Things to Consider:

  • Read through this blog post that gives tips and tricks for how chats work.
  • The #WhyIWrite hashtag will be extremely active on October 19 and 20, and a Twitter chat on those days might get lost in the overall celebration. Consider hosting a chat before the actual National Day on Writing and use a hashtag for this specific chat. Also tag the conversation with #WhyIWrite so the specific audience can follow the conversation along with the wider writing community as well.
  • Chats are best attended when they’re advertised in advance. Be sure to start publicizing the chat at least a week before it happens.

5. Establishing Local Recognition of the National Day on Writing

NCTE works to secure a resolution from the US Senate every year designating October 20 as the National Day on Writing. This can be done at the local level too. Reach out to local schools, districts, cities, counties, and/or state-level officials to secure recognition of the National Day on Writing for the local community. Whether a resolution is passed or an official announcement is posted on a website, recognition at the local level is critical to turning up the volume on the importance of writing.

Suggested Timeframe: This can take several weeks.

Location: Online or in the offices of elected officials

Materials: Handouts with information on the National Day on Writing

Things to Consider:

  • Create a list of reasons why this recognition is important. Try to be specific and concrete.
  • Find out who is in charge of designating special days at the local or state level.
  • Communicate any requests in writing and, ideally, in person. Find allies who can join in. There is strength in numbers!
  • Be persistent. It often takes several tries before action is taken.
  • Celebrate success. When recognition is secured, be sure to let local news outlets and NCTE know!