National Writing Project

National Writing Project Joins Celebration of National Day on Writing

Writers From All Walks of Life Share Stories about "Why I Write" as Part of National Effort

For Immediate Release


Berkeley, California, October 18, 2011 – The urge to write can be a mysterious calling. There are so many different ways to understand not only the why of writing, but what one gets out of it. To celebrate the National Day on Writing on October 20, the National Writing Project has joined The New York Times Learning Network, Figment and Edutopia to create the "Why I Write" project to collect the thoughts of people from all walks of life—scientists, businesspeople, reporters, poets, teachers, and students—and discover why they write.

The "Why I Write" project aims to create a national discussion about the importance of writing by collecting essays from people, interviewing authors, collecting student essays and spreading the word throughout the country as one way to celebrate the National Day on Writing this week. On the National Day on Writing, people will tweet why they write with the hashtag #whyiwrite—with the goal of creating a trending topic on Twitter—and also post their musings about why they write on Facebook.

Many have already shared their stories with the NWP, including: prize-winning international poet, translator, and essayist, Jane Hirshfield; long-time columnist for the Village Voice, Gary Giddins; popular science writer Timothy Ferris; noted physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson; and author of The Edge of Physics, Anil Ananthaswamy.

The National Writing Project has celebrated the National Council of Teachers of English's National Day on Writing since its inception three years ago.

On October 20 at 7 p.m. EST, the National Writing Project will air a live radio show to celebrate the National Day on Writing with interviews with New York Times education reporter Fernanda Santos, New York Times Learning Network editor Katherine Schulten, Figment founder and New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear, Figment teen writers, and NWP teacher and young adult author Ashley Hope Perez, among others.

"Our goal for this project is that it will create a new national dialogue about the importance of writing," said Dr. Sharon J. Washington, executive director of NWP. "Writing is part of most everyone's daily life and we hope by collecting the words of people from all walks of life, we will continue to inspire those young and old to write."

Of special note, Figment is collecting essays on its website from writers, primarily students and young adults, in response to the prompt "Why I Write," with an eye towards publishing an e-book anthology. The New York Times Learning Network has collected profiles of reporters and provided writing prompts from the Times' "Lives" column. There are several ways to participate in "Why I Write," though, so visit to learn more. You can also join the discussion on NWP's Facebook page and Twitter (#whyiwrite).


The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools and in other settings. NWP provides high-quality professional development programs to teachers in a variety of disciplines and at all levels, from early childhood through university. Through its network of 200 university-based sites located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners.

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