Once upon a time, publication was seen as the “icing” on the composition cake. Providing kids the chance to publish their work was a nice idea, but it was hardly any teacher’s top priority.
That was yesterday.
In today’s world, kids are not merely consumers of content, they are creators as well. And writing isn’t merely about getting a grade or even entertaining an audience. Writing is about connection. It’s about conversation. Collaboration. Synthesis. Publication isn’t a last stop on a writer’s journey anymore. In many ways, it’s the first.
There are a thousand different ways in which students might share their writing with real audiences. Once upon a time, writers went about the business of locating “a market” that was appropriate for their work. Today’s writers can blaze their own trail, seek their own audiences, and find their own niche. Those who are supported in doing so often find themselves leading conversations that they may not have been able to participate in yesterday, let alone set the agenda for. It’s not merely about what we have to say. Don’t get me wrong—now more than ever, kids need to know how to craft a quality message. But the definition of quality is expanding. We need to keep up with this. Today, writing is about inspiring engagement and rethinking and revising as a result. Writing is recursive. Perhaps the act of publishing can be too.
The web is full of fantastic markets for young writers. But I’m not certain that they need to find “a market” anymore. Maybe what they need is a message and a space of their own to share it in. Maybe “the market” will come to them. Maybe “the market” has something to share in return.
This post is the sixth in a series focused on the writing process and the 6+1 Traits of Writing. You may find the others here:
Ideas Inspire Prewriting Inspires Ideas
Drafting: Giving Voice and Shape to Our Ideas
Introducing Young Writers to the Peer Review Process
I really like this series Angela and will be sharing it with teachers back in the UK. You are so right when you say it is no longer about finding a market to publish your work. These are just so readily available now. The most important thing is about having a message and conveying it effectvely. And depending upon your method of publishing, blurring the boundaries between readers and writers.
Thanks Joy! The shifting notion of what publishing entails is something I find really exciting, and it does have huge implications for how we discuss publication with kids. I agree-there are so many more opportunities for them now….and they are very different than they used to be. If kids are taught that publication is simply sharing their final drafts, then they miss out on the chance to make the most of what publication can offer—a chance to share a message that has been thoughtfully arranged, so that we can learn more and rethink/refine/improve that message.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I agree with this. I never enjoyed writing or wrote at an above-2nd-grade-level until I started publishing. On Facebook, no less. Great post.