Being a writer has become a large part of my identity and deeply influenced my goals for the future. I know that much of this growth would not have been possible without educators and organizations such as La Plume and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards motivating me to produce meaningful work. Through the fellowship, I will explore how the storytelling skills of young writers are impacted by teachers and other educators. Storytelling is an inherently human process that connects people within and across cultures. It is also a skillset that develops over time, facilitated by mentorship and support from educators or members of the writing community.
Year after year, educators and competition readers connect to the stories of young writers. The majority of writing competitions have blind judging to ensure that readers judge the story for its ideas, rather than the name or the gender of the person who wrote it. These readers are tasked to review stories without ever knowing the writer’s identity or context for a piece. Readers for these competitions devote an inordinate amount of time to reading the works of others; their dedication reflects a commitment to the creative process.
Many young writers who enter competitions go on to have their work nationally and internationally recognized. Rather than focusing my research project on their success, I wish to explore the forces that are not always acknowledged: the educators and organizations that work tirelessly to support the development of young writers. My goal is to discover their perspective and understand what motivates them to encourage student storytelling.
THE IMPORTANCE OF WRITING
Writing is a crucial skill no matter what field a student is interested in pursuing. Colleges require a personal statement in addition to several supplemental essays as part of their application process. While it is widely understood that pursuing careers such as journalism or publishing require advanced writing skills, even careers that may not seem heavily focused on writing, such as medicine or business, require a strong ability to describe and articulate ideas. Students who pursue careers in science or mathematics must continue facilitating their writing skills as writing is a large component of research. Beyond its use in one’s work, writing has many other functions and benefits. Frequent expressive writing has been found to improve students’ mental and physical health and can also provide people with a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
By presenting my findings and data in an easily accessible way, I anticipate more people will learn about the relationship between educator mentorship and student success in the field of creative writing. Additionally, I believe the website will pique students' interest in creative writing and raise awareness about writing opportunities. Submitting to writing competitions can be an extremely valuable experience for students, and I would like to encourage more young writers to explore these opportunities.
Through this project, I hope to disseminate information from educators who focus in the field of creative writing so that their insights and techniques may be shared with others. By promoting a culture that facilitates creative expression, teachers and educators have the power to make a meaningful difference in the lives and futures of students: the voices of the future.