Students take note of National Day on Writing

Grand Canyon University students Lily Cooper and Katryna Eastwood (from left) oversee the flash fiction story unfolding to celebrate the National Day on Writing at GCU.

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

Much can be said in few words. Students walked past words scribbled on sticky notes. They walked over words in chalk on the Promenade.

“I woke up and regretted it.”

“Food is life. Life is food.”

They were six-word autobiographies posted on a board, one of several public writing exercises on display Monday outside the Grand Canyon University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building for the National Day on Writing.

“The six-word story was inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who wrote, ‘For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn,’" said Kimbel Westerson, a GCU instructor in English and writing.

“This day is an opportunity to show students that we can do a lot here.”

With few words.

“Wake up beauty. Time to beast.”

Students wrote six-word autobiographies on sticky notes.

“Reminds me of a T-shirt from a gym,” said Morganne Scheuerman.

She wrote, “Your thoughts are controlled by you.”

“Everyone tells me I overthink things. So writing is kind of talking to myself,” she said.

The National Day on Writing celebrates writing and the reasons why we write, a day launched by the National Council of Teachers of English, which has a GCU student chapter. English Department faculty and student writing clubs hosted the event.

“We are all writers,” Westerson said. “We don’t just write for assignments. Writing is an act of fun and creativity.”

The students wrote in sidewalk chalk the answers to “Why I Write.”

“I find inspiration in writing,” said Yaritza Hernandez, who wrote “To Inspire Others” on the sidewalk. “I find comfort in writing. I find strength. I read memoirs and I like to write them to inspire others to overcome challenges in their lives.”

Christina McSheffrey is a theatre major who was enthused about the day, too: “I love the collaborative process,” she said. “And it all starts with words.”

The students said writing helps people understand each other, especially in divisive times. It encourages empathy. It makes you feel.

“This is to celebrate the writer and shine a light on them and how important they are,” said Katryna Eastwood, who founded the student club Write Here, Write Now.

“But anybody can be a writer. You can write a blog.”

A flash fiction story emerged on the GCU campus Monday.

Another activity was flash fiction, in which one writer begins a short story and the following writers build on it. One started with a Russian agent and ended with a gun pointed at a family member; it was a bit dark. Another story involved an alien heart attack; it was a bit whimsical.

The teachers’ council encourages writing by starting with one sentence. It could be the first line of a poem or a journal entry to a poignant social media post that helps unleash creativity.

Or it could have meaning for someone else.

The group Love Your Melon, whose mission is to improve the lives of children battling cancer by putting a hat on every one of them, has a campus chapter who decided to write those children beautiful words.

They decided to write cards – and distribute them across the country.

“It’s always a good day to make a good day.”

Megan Benedict, a GCU student who is involved in the group, wrote that. “They want to know life isn’t just about what they are going through,” she said.

“You’re a ray of sunshine.”

Aleah Austin wrote that. She visited the children in the hospital last year. “It was important to share they are something beautiful.”

A few written words can do that.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

Related content:

GCU Today: National Day on Writing Makes the Words Count

GCU Today: The inside story behind six-word autobiographies


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