Story of A Loud Mouth. Kylee Alvarez. Grade 12, Age 17. 2012 Regional Gold Key, Art Portfolio.

Alliance staffer Lisa Feder-Feitel shares her thoughts on the importance of creative writing for National Day on Writing. Join us in celebrating this special day by tweeting about writing’s place in your life, what you write, or something you’ve written using the hashtag #WhatIWrite. Pulitzer Center is putting together a photo mash-up for it!

We tweet, we text, we blog…but in this age of TMI, it’s a relief to report a robust trend. People—especially teenagers—continue to hone the time-honored craft called creative writing. We have proof!

In 2012 alone, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards received more than 200,000 submissions from 12- to 18-year-olds in public, private and home schools across the country. Over two thousand essays, poems, stories and plays earned regional honors and of those, roughly 500 were granted national medals.

Teens teach us why creative writing is so important. Words have power. They allow us to say what we feel, what we mean, what we aspire to be, what we want to change. As we enter our 90th year of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, we are reminded by the freshness and urgency of their words, the unfettered feelings they are willing to express. Here’s how one reader put it:

Every manuscript represented the desire of one person for self-expression, and the whole formed conclusive proof that the youth of today possesses an awareness of life about him, a keen and intelligent urge to explore it and to translate it in terms of his own experience, and to make that translation as clear and vivid as possible.

Confronted by the complex, puzzling, and at times vastly irritating pattern which surrounds him, he has mustered his own resources to understand and interpret it successfully…and to communicate to others the solutions he has attained from the pattern.

[This writing] proves conclusively that creative youth is a constant, depending for its force not on a small body of genius, but rather on the great bulk of boys and girls in American schools. Of these, only a few, perhaps, will be professional writers. That is of little importance. The rest are acquiring something infinitely valuable—a feeling for beauty which will color their entire lives, and the lives of those around them. There lies the great encouragement.

These observations were made not by Francine Prose, or Nikki Giovanni, nor by Billy Collins or Major Jackson, or by any of our esteemed jurors and alums. Maurice Robinson, founder of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and Scholastic Inc., penned them in the foreword of Saplings, an annual anthology of Award-winning writing published by Scholastic, in 1928.

Why is creative writing important? Words have power. We have proof.

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