Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Passing it On (December Theme, Sarah Dooley)

Ever since I was a kid, sitting cross-legged on a stool in author Joy Lackey's kitchen while she looked over my poetry, I knew writers were a giving people. Whether you are brand new to writing (and eleven years old, no less) or whether you're a published author, there is always someone willing to lend a hand. Authors read each other's query letters. We listen to each other's pitches. We smatter ink across each other's paragraphs. We offer advice. Encouragement. Caution. Reason. Hope. We serve as cheerleaders, coaches, and critics as needed.We are everything from a bickering family to each other's biggest fans.

So many people have helped me on my writing journey, starting (but certainly not ending) when I was a child. Some of those early experiences with the wonder that is the writing community helped me to stay with this craft.

As authors, here are a few ways we can pay forward the help we were given and assist a new generation of writers:

1. Encourage a child to read. There is no better way to grow future writers than to put books – your own and others' – into kids' hands.

2. Encourage a child to write. Provide the space. The paper and pens. The prompts. Whatever you need to do to help kids jump in.

3. Teach kids to value each others' writing. There is nothing more rewarding than helping kids create their own writing community.

4. Be honest. Cheerlead. But don't only cheerlead. Kids need to know that writing is fun, but that it is work, and that there is value to second drafts, and third drafts, and beyond.

5. Be a fan. Kids need someone to want to read their writing, to cherish each turn of phrase, to wait with bated breath for the next installment.