Writing is powerful for girls and boosts their self-respect. Research shows that expressive writing about feelings and traumas helps the writer. James Pennebaker and his colleagues have found decreases in depression, anxiety, anger, and distress. While the many related studies were done on adults, I can testify to the dramatic positive effects for tween and teen girls.
I founded New Moon Girls magazine to give girls a place to express themselves and be listened to by others. Being listened to was an experience I didn’t have nearly enough of as a girl. Especially about things that were upsetting and traumatic for me. In my family we were expected to keep it all inside and pretend it wasn’t a big deal. But doing that led to depression and lack of self-confidence in my teen and young adult years.
That’s why I care so much about helping girls write and say things that others will read and listen to. Writing helps girls process their feelings, clarify their thoughts and heal from traumatic experiences. And I hear from you that you care about helping girls express themselves and be heard with respect. It’s wonderful to know there’s a strong community of adults who support girls in their ideas for writing.
I’m lucky enough to see proof of this every day in the writing girls send us by email and post in our special online community. They blow me away with their honesty, their high hopes for the world, their imagination, their curiosity, their expectation of equality for all people, their understanding of current issues, their empathy for others, their humor, their critical thinking, their passionate desire to solve problems and make things better. Their ideas for writing come in the form of stories, poems, songs, short essays, advice for other girls, and more!
Learning to write and edit a story for others to read, keep a journal, or express her opinion on a political issue all expand a girl’s priceless self-knowledge. And in the writing we see from girls, far and away the favorite way for them to do this is through creative fiction. They invent characters and situations that express what’s in their hearts and on their minds.
This is why I’m so excited that Mary Losure, author of Backwards Moon and other marvelous books for tweens, is offering her first interactive small group (only 8 participants) online writing workshop with us! There are just a few spots left and registration closes on August 2. Writing on the Wild and Free Side of Your Brain for Girls.
Luckily for me, writing opened up a whole new world. A story about a moose escaping a wolf pack that I wrote in fifth grade was included in my elementary school’s literary magazine and I felt so proud. By seventh grade, my writing was mostly in journals as I didn’t feel safe sharing it anymore. But it kept flowing. I would have had a much tougher adolscence without it. As I got older, my creative writing fell by the wayside. Now, even if it’s just for a few minutes, getting my thoughts out of my head and on to my computer as ideas for writing is an important part of my life.
Some of My Most Cherished Resources for You to Encourage a Girl’s Writing (and your own)
If she’s willing, being her writing coach can do wonders for her confidence and trust in you. Author Susannah Sheffer shares some great tips in How to Be a Writing Coach.
For girls especially, expressing their unique voice can feel scary. When she writes, she doesn’t have to be verbally extroverted to feel heard. If she’s not sure where to start, that’s okay! Writer and journalist Ellen Birkett Morris shares some amazing ideas for writing in this piece.
Building Strong Writers in Middle School by Deb DeLisle and Jim DeLisle, PhD is written for teachers but don’t let that keep you away. It’s an abundance of writing you and a girl can do together. Download a short free except here.
Look for writing programs in your community. Write Girls in Los Angeles is an outstanding example. Is there a writing program for girls ages 8 or up that you love? Add the link to their website in a comment to this post and we’ll make a permanent list on our website.
And my personal favorite: Writing Ideas from NMG members:
P.S. July is National Anti-Boredom Month
“I’m bored” is a phrase I hate hearing. How about you? But before we leap to tell her all the things she can do, it helps to realize that feeling occasional boredom can actually be a good sign. It means that a girl isn’t over-distracted or over-scheduled. It means there’s an opening for her to risk trying something new. And just for you, we have a fabulous free excerpt from New Moon Girls magazine full of Boredom Busters from our readers!