There are many ways in today’s world to encourage a child to write. There’s internet communities like Wattpad and Figment, where they can post their writing, there’s subcultures of writing like fanfiction, there’s poetry contests, genre clubs and keeping of personal journals. Stories posted on websites like Wattpad by writers as young as thirteen years old have gotten millions of hits, and while it may not make that young writer a household name, it gives them encouragement to write. There’s a whole world of writing today, and many avenues to publish for young people in non-traditional forms, but how does one get a young person to write in the first place? A kid who writes will have better skills for their future college essays, their current school essays and better skills in general for current and future tasks, which have to do with communication. However, what do we do to encourage young people to write now? There are many avenues that could be taken.
I feel the first important avenue isn’t having the child write off the bat, but having the child read. Finding a genre to get the child to read, and one they would really like is the first step. A young person who reads a lot of fantasy, might want to try to write fantasy themselves, while a teen who has gotten into realistic teen fiction might want to write fiction reflecting their own experiences. Fiction writing is a great way to encourage children to write, because they can embrace a genre and idea that may sound slightly like a book they read, but also be completely different. Even adult fiction writers draw from the genres they like to read.
However, not all kids like fiction, and that’s where another avenue comes in. Young people might want to write non-fiction, and this can come in the form of journalism, creative non-fiction and poetry. Poetry has always been a popular form for young people, as it’s emotional and often reflects how they feel about anything from a crush to something pretty they saw outside. They may also want to write for a school newspaper, reporting on the local events at the school. This provides them with a constant way to write, be instantly published and a social group around that paper. Another thing young people who don’t like writing fiction may feel they want to write is essays on topics they are interested in. If a young person really likes costumes, for example, and also likes anime, they might want to write an article on Cosplay, the art of dressing up as Japanese characters, and offering advice on a blog they set up.
Blogging is another creative option to encourage young people to write. Though, the young people should be careful, as they don’t want to spill out their life on the web, they might want to write about their knowledge concerning a topic they know a lot about, like reviews of books, movies, music or anime. Another way to encourage young people to write is fanfiction, which in a way, is a way to write about a topic but a bit different, as it’s fiction itself but about a topic.
A lot of these websites including Wattpad, Figment, and the originator of fanfiction on the web, Fanfiction.net, offer places for young people to post fiction of their favorite existing media. “Harry Potter” is known as the biggest fanfiction topic on the web, but fanfiction dates back to fanzines, which is a fan produced magazine or newsletter, of “Star Trek”. Fanfiction offers a creative way for young people to write, and also express their love for a book, movie, TV show or band. A big misconception of fanfiction is it’s poor writing, as a lot of it is often well written.
Encouraging a young person to write can take time, as not everyone wants to sit down and write. They may feel they have had enough of this in school, and feel it’s like extra homework to them. However, if you make writing exciting for them, and make it feel like they are contributing to a community, whether it’s an online fiction community, an writing group which meets in person, a blog or a school newspaper, then writing can become an outlet and a good way for them to become more well rounded people.