#WoWsday

Wow. I’ve actually read a blog that combines the two things I like to blog about: a form of transport (walking) and writing. So how could I resist a follow-up blog?

It was the last WoWsday blog for 2014. You can find it on http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/blog-post-happy-wowsday-its-authors-month. Published the first Wednesday of each month and tweeted by @livingstreets, the blogs are designed to promote WoWsday. This is the ongoing campaign that charity and pedestrian lobbying group Living Streets has developed to encourage children to Walk once a Week to school. ‘WoW’ is also sometimes translated as Walk on Wednesday. Living Streets also has a parallel campaign for adults walking to work. The campaigns have increased walking in neighbourhoods and towns around the country, resulting in better health, less congestion at school gates and lots of other good stuff.

I’m not sure if social media is their strong point, but they have given it a good go. This school year their theme is ‘When I Grow Up,’ and they have chosen authors as the career to celebrate in December, which is reflected in their badges and blog.

Now as I said when I first retweeted the link to this blog, their way of selling the career to kids is a bit odd to say the least, and probably unhelpful. If kids want to be writers just because they want to have their novel turned into a ‘blockbuster movie’, then they are much more likely to grow up into a world of disappointment. If movies are their thing, perhaps they should focus on learning the skills of that trade, including screen writing. As for being the grammar police, anyone can be educated enough to do that, writer or not. It’s more of a reading skill, and there are times when I’m mentally correcting the grammar of a novel that’s been published by editors! As for joining a ‘unique group’ and having ‘interesting qualities’, well, I simply haven’t a clue what that’s supposed to mean.

When I was a kid, I loved writing and entered every local ‘young authors’ competition and journalism prize I could, but somehow didn’t really consider ‘writing’ a career option. Early on in my undergraduate degree I decided that hard-boiled journalism wasn’t for me, and I didn’t see another avenue to aim for. In some ways I was wrong. People make careers out of being freelance writers or teaching writing. But in some ways I was right, because being a writer isn’t necessarily a career; it’s more of a personality trait or a part of your identity. And that’s something worth telling kids.

Which brings us back to Living Streets’ blog. They haven’t told the children that the reason they might want to be a writer when they grow up is because they already are one, and they simply need to keep writing and telling stories to be one. Yet they have very accurately identified two of the links between writing and walking.

Gentle physical activity, especially in an attractive, potentially stimulating setting is a great way to dust out the cobwebs and mull over plot lines and character development. You might even see something that inspires you in a new direction. Physical activity is also good for mental health and walking offers a regular, social and accessible form of physical activity that is particularly rewarding for all ages. For children, it helps them develop into more healthy, independent, positive young adults. Is it any surprise that, as the blog mentions, so many classic novels, not least ones about growing up and ‘coming-of-age’ feature protagonists walking and travelling long distances on their quests?

The world touches you more directly when you’re walking (or on public/group transport, bicycles or horses) than when you’re in a car or private vehicle. So if Living Streets’ WoWsday campaign is increasing walking, they are probably helping young writers even without the addition of blog advice.

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