Saturday, February 20, 2010

Do You Journal?

Do you keep a journal? I used to, but I haven't written in any sort of personal journal in a really long time, unless you count my many blogs, but my blogs are public and others can read them, so I cannot be as open in them as I used to be in my private journal.

It was really carthartic for me, whenever something was troubling me, to write in my journal. In my journal, which was for my eyes only, I could vent at people who made me angry, think through problems that needed to be addressed, brainstorm ideas (no matter how silly), make to-do lists and write about the things that made me happy.

If you journal, do you find it helps you? Does it make you a better writer in other ways? Does getting all of your random thoughts and feelings written down in your journal free you up to write more eloquently with your more creative endeavors?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

10 Ways To Inspire Your Child To Write

1. Read to your child or make sure he or she spends time reading every day. Not only does reading help her get used to using her imagination, but it also improves her vocabulary by introducing her to new words.

2. Tell your child made-up stories. Seeing you using your imagination to come up with interesting stories for him helps inspire him to do the same.

3. Play story-telling games with your child. Start by saying one line of a story, and have the next person continue the story by coming up with the second line, and the third person has to come up with the third line. If this proves too difficult, each person can come up with a paragraph instead of a line each. This is a great way to stimulate your child’s creativity and get her thinking about the things that make up a good story.

4. Have your child and some of his or her friends write poems and make it a contest. Make sure they don’t put their names on the poems, and then collect the poems into a pile. Read the poems out loud, one by one, and tell them all they can vote for one poem, other than their own, that they thought was the best one. Then tabulate the votes and the winner gets a treat, like a candy bar, a sticker or a new notebook (depending on what you can afford to give and how old your child is). Do this once a week, at the same time each week, because knowing that it is coming up will have them all thinking about their poem throughout the week.

5. Get your child a library card. As in the first point above, reading is important for your child if she is going to develop the ability to write. Reading a variety of stories and books, as a library card will allow, will help her to become familiar with different writing voices and styles.

6. Self-publish his stories and drawings so that he can hold a physical book of his own creation in his hands. This can be done through places like Amazon’s CreateSpace, and Blurb, Inc. Or you can create the book by hand using your printer and the right materials. If you are completely lost on how to create the book, use a service such as Your Kids’ Creations. Having a physical book of his own words and drawings that he can hold, read and share with others inspires a confidence in his own writing that is hard to capture in other ways. This confidence will inspire him to write more.

7. Do some writing yourself. Seeing a parent take writing seriously and spend time writing emphasizes the importance of writing in a child’s mind. It’s a case of leading by example.

8. Have your child write and illustrate a poem. This helps show your child the connection between the beauty in words and the beauty in the world around her. It helps to make the connection that you are painting a picture with words when writing. As an extra step, you can even put her masterpiece on a mug, poster or magnet at for her to keep as a physical reminder that she can create beauty with her writing, or just to show her how proud you are of her work.

9. Help your child create a newsletter. Let him take pictures of his friends or other things with a digital camera, or provide him with pictures if a digital camera is not available, and he can write stories about sports he loves, games he plays with his friends, or just interesting news about his friends and family that he’d like to share. Help him put it all together in a newsletter format. Print up several copies and he can hand them out to his friends and family members. He can even let his friends participate in the newsletter by contributing stories to it.

10. Let your child have his or her own blog or use other social media outlets. With the proper supervision, writing for her own blog or keeping in touch with her friends through other social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook can really help inspire your child to reach for even greater creativity. Using a blog source such as makes it easy for her to choose a template and set up her own blog (though, depending on her age, she might need your help), and you can set it to not allow comments or to only allow comments after they’ve been moderated by you. She can share her writing of stories and poetry as well as her drawings and even simple journal entries in her blog. The blog can be set to private or public and you can monitor it to the extent that you think is necessary. Facebook and Twitter accounts can also be set to private and you can only allow them to authorize friends you know, but this frees them to chat freely and be creative with their friends.

There are many ways to inspire creativity and a love for writing in your child. Even as simple a thing as writing a letter to his or her grandparents can help bring out the creative writer in your child. It’s up to you to encourage your children and to lead by example in their lives. If you put importance on writing in your life, your child will see it as important too.