The Dandelion Patch

Friday, July 9, 2010

Writing: A Habit Worth Developing

All around me, I see signs for summer reading programs. I'd like to propose a summer writing program. Reading is definitely an important skill. Writing is a close second.

A good writer can write himself or herself into or out of almost any situation. I've seen more people who have excellent writing skills excel in careers where they had no other prior experience, than I have seen people with any other kind of specific technical expertise be able to make similar career crossovers.

You don't even have to see yourself as a "writer" to see a benefit from writing. In fact, last year admidst the worst recession we've seen, I've proffered that if business people wrote thank you notes, their businesses would benefit. Specifically, I've offered a "Heidi Challenge" - where business folks would write 52 thank you notes (1 per week) in a year. After 12 months of this task, the group that went along with my challenge showed better-than-average sales, improved relations with their vendors and strengthened relationships with their employees. What we learned from the "Heidi Challenge" was that writing 'thank you' was really a lesson in being grateful. And thus, our outlook became more positive and our stress level reduced - simply from writing thank you notes!

It doesn't take much to develop a writing habit. A pen and some paper. Perhaps a journal. Give someone - perhaps even yourself - the gift of writing. Forget boring composition books from college days; we have a cornucopia of journals at The Dandelion Patch to suit every personality. From tiny Moleskine notebooks to whimsical journals with the words "Create" or "Rules" or "Write" on the cover. Some thought-provoking journals have quotes such as, "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you've got something to say." Or, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Pretty Vera Bradley pocket-sized books, with matching pens, pencils or highlighters. Lily Pulitzer pens, pencils or highlighters are equally beautiful and all enhance the writing experience.

It's never too early to get little ones started on this habit (though do try to get them to contain their writings to paper instead of the walls!). Start them out with Melissa and Doug Triangular Colored Pencils (they don't roll!), and let them write to friends and family on note cards and let them have some fun sending / receiving mail over the summer. On gift-giving occasions, even the youngest writers can learn to write thank you notes with Zoomerang's fill-in-the-blanks thank you notes. It allows just enough fill-in space to personalize the note, but provides enough pre-printed information to keep the process from being frustrating for new writers.

Next time you head to the beach or the pool, instead of packing a summer book, consider packing a journal and pen instead.

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