Encourage A Young Writer Day is about more than fostering creativity and passion in children who seem to be interested in writing. It is about teaching children to be bold and proud about who they are while learning to use language to express themselves and tell their stories. For young girls, this day is of particular importance.
Girls are typically encouraged to quiet their imaginative spirit and limit their stories to “normal” notions of femininity and girlhood. This is not to say that traditional fairytales are bad or uncreative. It would be wrong to devalue the incredible works that focus on topics classically attributed to girlhood, such as faeries, princesses, or mermaids. But we must recognize that the greatest act of expression lies in the individual, whether in or outside of these classical bounds. People should create things they are passionate about.
Encouraging a writer can happen in many ways, including as simple as providing a supportive and listening ear. Children, especially girls, must feel as if they have a space to create and express themselves freely and without judgment. Offering to read stories is also a helpful way to provide encouragement. Simply reading their creative works shows young writers that you are interested in their voice and story. It can help build confidence in writing ability and passion for the subject.
Recently, girls have been gaining recognition for their exemplary literary skills. When interviewed, many say their experiences in childhood are central to their literary ability. Samantha Shannon, for example, published her first novel, The Bone Season, in 2013, at the age of 21 years old! She reports that, ever since she was a child, she has been obsessed with fairy tales. That inspired her to begin writing and creating the stories that she wanted to see. In an interview given with Bloomsbury magazine, Shannon stated that she remembers the focus of her sixth birthday being fantasy movies, sword fights, and dragons; it was incredibly fantastical. Since then, she has been obsessed with but was shy to embrace a genre so iconic for young boys. Shannon wanted a female heroine to fulfill the role of hero or knight, but page after page revealed a male-dominated genre. She realized that if she wanted to see herself and other girls represented, she would have to write the stories herself. As a teenager, she began writing The Bone Season.
“It’s been empowering for me personally to write a world which is quite women-centric.”
Shannon embraced her identity, and because of that wrote an international best-seller. Even though she was young, she embraced her ability to write and used that to literally create a world that she would be happy with.
Girls like Shannon are evidence that young people are capable of producing extraordinary works and should be encouraged. They should not be discounted by virtue of their age. Anyone is capable of creating stories, and every story deserves to be heard. It is important for young writers to remind themselves that there is no time or age limit on creativity. Inspiration can really come out of nowhere and at any time! Everyone should feel empowered to write about things they believe, regardless of age. Ultimately, the best works are the ones produced out of passion.