Write Across Ontario

I came across news of this year’s Write Across Ontario and I wish every grade 7 or 8 student in Ontario who has ever dreamed of being a writer can participate.

Igniting the spark for writing at an early age is ideal. When I was in elementary school, I wrote a story for school. And I loved it. It was a story about a pair of ballet shoes that had been discarded as the little girl who owned them grew up. It was melancholy and sentimental (maybe overly so) but I was proud of it. I enjoyed writing it. And I was excited to hand it in.

My teacher wasn’t in love with the story as much as I was and I remember feeling discouraged by her comments. In general, I am not easily offended but I remember feeling the hit, thinking maybe writing wasn’t my thing, that I would find something else I was good at. Even well-meaning teachers don’t realize how harmful their feedback can be for kids, especially in areas of the arts because it is so subjective.

Thankfully my love of writing won out in the end but I wasted precious years to realize this.

When I see contests, like the Write Across Ontario, it excites me. It gives students who love to write a fantastic challenge and an opportunity to submit their work for review. They may allow their friends, family and teachers to read their stories, but sending it to an outside organization for critical review is great way for them to taste the world of publishing. In the end, whether they win or not, it’s up to us to encourage them and make sure they know that as writers, we want others to read our work but their approval isn’t always the end goal.

So if you know a student in Ontario in grades 7 or 8, please pass this along and encourage them to meet their muse. Maybe my muse remembers her original inspiration for the ballet shoes thing. I might have to revisit that.




6 Responses to Write Across Ontario

  1. I remember a similar experience at school. I’d written this epic twenty-two page sci-fi story (I was only eleven) about aliens – it had heroes crawling through ventilation ducts and everything a classic sci-fi story should have.

    My teacher liked it less than I did, and from that moment on I’ve carried a mortal fear of writing long-form fiction. :-/

    Seriously though, I was never presented with the chance to enter a contest like this – I doubt I’d have won, but I think it gives kids a great opportunity to get excited about, and feel affirmed in, their choice to write.

    • Maybe that’s why I don’t write anything too sentimental anymore. Maybe that teacher did me a favour 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your experience, TJ.

  2. Too many young writers dreams are killed by teachers unwilling to encourage their students. I am in the same boat as you. If I had kept on writing back in grade 5 who knows where I would be now. But whatever at least there are contests like this to encourage young writers. I know kids who can try this next year if they do it again. Thanks for getting the word out and I hope that it inspiers the youngsters who try for it. 🙂

  3. Our school teachers really can have a big and lasting impact on us. I had a very encouraging English teacher at school who I think could see my potential as a writer before I ever could. I knew at the time I liked writing, but I still had it in my mind that I would be a scientist, or an archaeologist instead. On my last day he wrote a comment in my (for want of a better word) yearbook that said “Write it, finish it, publish it.” I now have that pinned above my work desk. Took me a long time to see what he saw.

    • Love stories like that! Teachers can make a big difference. And hey, what an appropriate comment today, since October 5th is World Teacher Day! Thanks, Chrissey.

  4. To be honest I was never encouraged to write as a child, I was told that it wasn’t very good and I still carry “scars” from then now.

    It’s only been in more recent years that I’ve considered it seriously when I’ve read stuff that left me wondering how it managed to get published.

    The other bright side is I feel that they need to encourage reading more as its a gift that keeps giving, it also gives the chance for people to see how they’re constructed.

    So get more children writing, let them have fun, let them learn thier own lessons where they can decide if they want to carry on or not, just don’t scar them as you never know who could be the next big thing.

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