Twenty-four hours. No excuses. What are you going to write? The National Council of Teachers of English has designated October 20 as the National Day on Writing. Don’t quite know where to begin? True, nothing’s quite as scary as staring at a blank page (or Word document), but you can do it. Start slow. One sentence at a time. Soon, you’ll have a poem, a journal, a story, the first chapter of a novel, or just a really poignant FB post. Go ahead. Unleash your creativity. Put it in writing.
National Day on Writing - History
First e-mail written
Ray Tomlinson, a computer engineer at MIT, sent an email to a computer sitting right next to him. He doesn't remember exactly what he wrote — something like "QWERTYUIOP."
The first typewriter
Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented the first commercially sold typewriter. Soon, typed correspondence became the standard for every type of writing except personal correspondence. Typing became an invaluable skill.
First written language
The Sumerians of the Akkadian empire developed a writing system based on pressing marks into wet clay using a stylus. Many of these clay tablets survived.
National Day on Writing Activities
1. Keep track of all the writing you do
Text message? Birthday card? Tweet? Keep track of them all, and find out how much you really write! Share your numbers with friends and see who writes most.
2. Play some language games
If not for our writing prowess, we couldn't participate in spelling bees, Scrabble, Scattergories, Taboo, Mad Libs, Hangman, and many others. Celebrate your word power with a round of your favorite word game.
3. Write something outside your comfort zone
Have you ever written lyrics to a song? A sonnet? A piece of flash fiction? A toast? Venture into an unfamiliar territory, writing-wise, and let those creative juices flow. You may surprise yourself.
5 Wild Word Facts
1. The longest possible word
That honor goes to "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis", which is a lung disease.
2. A word that looks the same when turned upside down
That would be "swims."
3. A word that has all the vowels in alphabetical order
For this one you could choose between "facetious" and "abstemious".
4. A word that doesn't mean anything
There are several "ghost words" that have appeared in dictionaries thanks to printing errors. The most popular one is "dord," which appeared in several dictionaries in the 20th century.
5. A word that didn't exist yesterday
Grammarians estimate that a new word is added to the English language every two hours.
Why We Love National Day on Writing
A. We write more than we think
It's hard to add up how much a person actually writes, but one study showed that the average office worker writes the length of a novel every year — in emails alone! You're probably relying on your ability to write more than you ever considered.
B. Too many people can't write
One of the purposes of the National Day on Writing is to call attention to the fact that, with our workplaces more computerized than ever, writing is a truly valuable skill. Despite this, there are 32 million adults in the United States who can't write a simple email — and that number hasn't changed in ten years.
C. Writing is crucial to identity
Writing isn't just a way to communicate. By writing we tell stories about ourselves, express our emotions, and draw attention to causes that matter to us. It's hard to overestimate the power that a finely honed writer's craft can bring you.