Most writing that a student does is seen by two people only—himself and his teacher. Sometimes the writing goes home and parents see it. But rarely do fellow students or friends see student writing. Rarely is there a real world audience.
Professional writers write for an audience. It may be tightly focused—a blog for race car enthusiasts—or it might be more widespread—Reader’s Digest readers. For students to do their best—for them to want to produce the best writing possible—publishing is essential.
- Hanging a finished essay on the refrigerator at home.
- Photocopying the finished essay and mailing it to Grandma.
- Scanning the finished essay into the computer and emailing it to aunts and uncles or former teachers.
- Using the finished essay as Mom’s screen saver.
- Putting a finished copy in a three-ring binder in a classroom or tutoring center for other students and parents to read.
- Putting the finished essay online in a student blog or teacher’s blog of student writing.
- Putting it online in a “great essays” section of a teacher’s classroom work.
- Entering it in writing in contests.
Publishing matters. Professional writers don’t write for a grade. They write to be read. Too few students have this opportunity. But when they do, it motivates them to write better. At a tutoring center where I teach writing, students crowd around the binder bursting with finished student work. They mention what they have read to each other, or sometimes they try their own hand at the same kind of writing as their friend has written. I point this out to the students whose work has inspired other students, and they grin ear to ear.
Parents, too, read the writing of students. They look for students in the same grade as their child to see what other children of that age are writing. They read with pride their child’s work among other children’s work. They also read for the sheer pleasure of reading good writing.