Faculty, students celebrate National Day on Writing

10-21-09 Writing
A poster hangs in the halls of the G. Homer Durham Language and Literature building after students participated in the seven-word memoir challenge on Tuesday.(Matt Pavelek | The State Press)
Published On:
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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ASU celebrated the first National Day on Writing on the Tempe campus Tuesday, with events ranging from a write-in to a seven-word memoir challenge.

Faculty members from the English Department, Writing Programs at ASU and English Education program worked since August to plan the events after they were first proposed by the National Council of Teachers of English last spring, said Shirley Rose, director of Writing Programs at ASU.

The groups sought to raise awareness on campus about different types of writing, Rose said.

Events included the write-in and seven-word memoir challenges, a writing center demonstration, tutorials and a compilation of students’ favorite and least favorite words.

On Oct. 8, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that declared Oct. 20 the National Day on Writing and said the day “celebrates the foundational place of writing in the personal, professional and civic lives of Americans.

The purpose of National Day on Writing is to raise awareness of the variety of writing that exists in the 21st century and recognize that every person is a writer in some way, according to the council’s Web site. The site will showcase writing samples from across the country in its National Gallery of Writing.

Rose said she was pleased that ASU decided to support the council’s initiatives for the first time.

“To have this kind of recognition is great because it’s bigger than just something English teachers are doing,” she said. “It’s something that everyone has been involved in.”

Within the first hour of the write-in, which allowed students and faculty to write their thoughts on paper and a smart board, there were about 30 to 40 participants, Rose said.

“I hope it will help remind people that they write all the time, especially in a university setting where people see writing as an assignment,” Rose said. “I want people to think about how much writing they do to get through the day. We generate writing all day long; it’s not just for school.”

Katherine Heenan, the main coordinator of the day’s events and a senior lecturer for the English department, said she hopes the celebration will continue for years to come so students will realize writing is fun.

“I think they don’t realize how much writing they actually do, both inside and outside of class,” said Heenan, giving examples like text messaging, Facebook and Twitter.

Japanese and pre-med junior Christian Kortlang participated in the write-in and said he enjoyed the opportunity to make his thoughts available for others to see.

“I like the concept of expressing your thoughts,” he said. “It’s important for people to be open-minded.”

Kortlang contributed a quote by Eckhart Tolle that he said he likes to remind himself of every day.

“Do not dwell on the past, for it is no longer relevant. Do not dwell on the future, for it is but a projection of the ego. Devote yourself entirely to the very brief present,” he wrote.

The seven-word memoir challenge was another way students participated in National Day on Writing.

Clinical professor of English Laura Turchi hosted the challenge, which required students to write a story about themselves using seven words; one word had to be “Arizona.”

The first student memoir entered into the challenge read “Dear Arizona, your endless summer inspires love!”

All writing should be celebrated constantly, Turchi said.

“Writing is a huge part of a lot of lives,” Turchi said. “It’s not just something that your teacher forces you to do.”

Reach the reporter at slsnyder@asu.edu.