Summer writing fun for any age

REMINDER: Voting for July Word of the Month poems ends July 30 at noon CST. Don’t forget to vote!

Hi everyone,

On the Teachers Page of my website I list various writing tips for students. The one I’m reprinting today addresses some activities that kids can engage in and enjoy during the summer days when they’ve grown a bit weary of the usual fare. I decided to post these suggestions today in case someone you know might be needing some worthwhile distractions.


For many students summer is a time for family trips, chores around the house, part-time jobs, summer school, swimming, camps, reading, movies, hanging with friends, computer games, staying up later, sleeping in . . . .

Another way for kids to have summer fun is to write something! Here is a list of ideas to help get started.

Keep a journal.
Preserve a running record of the highlights of your summer. Jot down anything you want to remember. Taking a trip or camping out or interviewing for a job? Make notes in your journal.

Take pictures.
Don’t forget your camera. Good pictures are another form of note keeping.

Make lists.
What do you like? Cars? Boys? Girls? Fishing? Cooking? Shoes? Hunting? Catching insects? Reading? Traveling? Pick subjects and make lists of ways you could write about them. Keep the lists in your journal.

What do you like or not like about writing?
Be honest with yourself. If you think writing is boring, say so in your journal, but also say why you think it’s no fun and what might make it more interesting. Do you like to write? Say that and explain to yourself why you do.

What do you like to read?
List your favorite book titles and decide why you like them. What are they about? Mysteries? Adventure? Nature? Science fiction? Joke books? Chapter books? Longer books? Graphic novels? Poetry? Nonfiction? Fiction? Decide which kinds of writing appeal most to you and jot them in your journal.

Pick out something to write.
Now you have a list of favorite subjects, a list of favorite books, and a description of why you like writing or what would make writing more interesting for you. It’s time to write something.

Don’t sweat it.
It’s summer. Don’t feel stressed about this. It’s not an assignment, it’s just something to do that you might enjoy. If you start a story and stop after a few lines, set it aside until you’ve finished cleaning your room or babysitting your sister or staying over with a friend or just plain putting it off. The story (poem, essay, novel) will wait until you’re ready to come back to it. That’s the nice thing about writing.

Try to finish something.
On the other hand, it doesn’t pay to put it off all summer! If you check back on what you are writing fairly often, you’ll be surprised by how much you can get done. Try to finish at least one thing. Maybe two or three. Maybe more.

You decide.
Summer is a good time to be your own boss about writing. You can write what you want, when you want, finish something if you want, or start several things and leave them all for later. By the time school starts, you may find that you’ve developed a habit of writing now and then and that it’s a pleasant activity. You decide.

I hope you are enjoying the summer!


Which features do you like best about my blog?

Hello everyone,

Now and then I ask for your opinions and advice about this blog. Since it’s start-up last August I’ve introduced a number of features to the blog and/or website. Individually and collectively these take time to maintain so it helps me to know how well these features are being received.

With Kathy Temean’s help I’ve posted voting boxes similar to the ones you see at the end of each month when you vote for your favorite poets. But these boxes give you a chance to vote for your top three favorite feature on my site.

Here’s how it works. You see below the same box three times and you can vote three times. In the first box, vote for your number one favorite. In the second box, vote for your second choice. In the third box, vote for your thired choice. This way I’ll get a better sense of how each feature ranks among those of you who take the time to cast ballots.

I hope you will make free use of the comment sections to add your thoughts and suggestions. As I’ve said before, my goal was and is to bring you a blog that’s worth your time to visit and/or participate in. Your thoughts are important to me.

Thanks for your help. I’ll leave these boxes up for a week to give you plenty of time to consider your selections.

Teacher page

When Kathy Temean and I put together my website last year, one of the elements we both wanted was a page for teachers. Have you found it? Just go to the website and click on Teachers. In that section I provide some information about professonal development, school visits, interviews, and a teaching tool — one each month.

The teaching tools are presented in a form for classroom teachers but some of them might be of use to adult writers as well. Here is a list of the topics covered (briefly) so far:

August – Association technique for getting started
September – Revising
October – Finding ideas
November – The importance of observation
December – Show, don’t tell
January – Poems inspired by one word
February – Journals and idea files
March – Interviews
April – Playing with lines

I hope you find useful pointers among these writing tools. If you are a teacher, let me know if you think you can use them with your students.