Language holds a special place in our society. As technology continues to advance, our ability to communicate is what will help us make sense of our new world. In particular, it will be important for us to continue to encourage young writers, as they will be responsible for helping create the stories that inspire a new generation of inventors by imagining what could be and putting it into words. Yet still, technology will remain popular with kids. According to Statista, 16.1% of children in the United States first used a cell phone when they were between the ages of three and four. 12.2% were even allowed access to a phone for the first time before turning three. Devices will continue to engage our youth as they explore digital capabilities; so, when a child shows interest in writing, be sure to support them.
1. Pick up a book!
Reading and writing go hand in hand. Reading can improve your writing by introducing you to new vocabulary words, styles, and grammatical structures. If you have a young writer, one of the best ways for them to learn is by picking up harder reads, the works of classic authors or genres that interest them and discovering how they were constructed.
2. Give them time.
We live in a busy, hectic world and writing is a personal, deliberate act. Make sure that your young writer has time to gather their thoughts and emotions, reflect and get their words down on paper. School, social media and life sometimes conspire to distract writers from the page; be patient and let them figure it out. You can’t rush the process.
3. Try a Fan Fiction exercise.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Writers are often inspired by their favorite books, films, and TV shows. As they take in the content, a writer might consider how they would have constructed the narrative or the different character choices they would have made. For young writers especially, love for an iconic character or a fictional world could be what compels them to put pen to paper. Try giving them an exercise where they have to craft a new adventure for familiar characters. By sticking to established guidelines, writers can learn to be true to their character’s voice while exploring new territory. Their prompt doesn’t have to be literary in nature, but they will still benefit through writing.
4. Practice makes perfect.
Stephen King didn’t write The Shining in one sitting and Suzanne Collins didn’t become a best-selling author overnight. Help your young writer remember that writing is one of the many things in life that improves the more you do it. Practice makes perfect and you have to work through numerous drafts before you get to a finished piece.
5. Be their audience.
Why write if no one is reading? Even the most determined writers can become discouraged if their stories are unread. In the beginning, you’ll be your child’s top spectator and your encouragement will fuel them. Show excitement when they present their first story- print it out and have them read it aloud. Above all, give your children an opportunity to share what they have written. If your young writer believes that their words matter and that someone out there is listening, they will keep writing. Whether it’s you, your family or friends or their friends, they will be encouraged to write. An audience can come from anywhere and they will be motivated to do their best work!
6. Help them revise.
Even at an early age, revisioning is important. Don’t rip apart their work, but help your child understand that editing is an essential part of the writing process and they’ll fare better in the future. Reading aloud, spellcheck and grammar resources are all that you need to teach a young writer the skills they need to build upon.
7. Writing can be a profession.
Finally, tell your adolescent “Agatha Christie” that there is a future in what they’re doing! In a world where streaming is dominant and screentime seems tied to success, let your writer know that they can be anything they want to be. Yes, you can be realistic about the likelihood of becoming a famous author but don’t use the odds to discourage. Instead, help them understand the level of dedication it takes to get their work published and what those steps look like. There are a number of writing-based careers out there—teaching, journalism and marketing all require strong writing skills. Additionally, as long as there is an internet browser there will be websites that need content or posts that need copy.
The world that your young writer creates doesn’t have to be a fictional one. They can create a beautiful life for themselves through writing, just give them a little push. For more on the power of writing, visit our blog at paper.domtar.com/blogs.