Giving a Talk to Seventh Graders

If you were giving a talk to seventh graders about writing, what would you focus on?

The historical museum sponsored an essay contest, and tomorrow night is the award ceremony. A woman from the museum will be talking about the historical aspect of the contest, and I have been invited to talk about the writing aspect.

One suggestion was for me to talk the importance of writing, and how it could lead to a writing career, but I so do not want to disillusion the poor kids before they find out that writing is a career for only a select few. For so many of us, writing is important in various ways, and though we would like to make a living at it, writing itself has to be the reward.

Another suggestion was to talk about how the grasp of writing is important in getting a job, but I don’t know if that’s still true. Is it? The world is changing so quickly that much of what used to be considered slang seems to be acceptable (like, duh). Now it’s anyone’s guess as to the place writing will have by the time these kids enter the job market.

If it were a group of adults, I could talk about the importance of writing (journaling) when one is going through a crisis, but I certainly can’t talk about how writing can help one deal with the loss of a spouse, and I certainly won’t give them nightmares by talking about writing in dealing with the possible loss of a parent.

I could talk about the importance of story, but “story” isn’t always about writing — it can be also be visual or spoken. (Or unspoken if one has ESP) Or I could talk about the importance of writing as communication, but again, there are other ways of communicating besides just writing.

The talk doesn’t have to be very long, but it needs to be fun, entertaining, and helpful. And something seventh graders can relate to. Eek. How did I get myself this situation? Oh, right — I agree to do it.

So, any suggestions for what should I say?


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

8 Responses to “Giving a Talk to Seventh Graders”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I would talk about how writing can preserve thoughts, emotions, and ideas long after the writers have left this Earth. In some cases, the writing is all we have to draw information on for a specific time and place. In a way, it’s a kind of magic. It brings worlds to life and recalls them from ages long past. In a way, whether you are journaling your day-to-day events, telling an epic story, or describing what life was like in a certain place and time, you are engaging in a form of wizardry using letters and words.
    And you can quote me on that!

  2. Joe Says:

    Can you reference how writing is a left-brained structured/regimented activity that can marry with right-brained images/insights/artistry and create something powerful and life-changing? It might be too advanced a concept for some but young folks these days are smart. Some will get it, or it might sink in and influence them later in life.

  3. Why is Writing Important? | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] been asked to give a brief talk to seventh graders about the importance of writing, which has led me to question if writing really is important. […]

  4. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    There’s a mental health aspect to writing, too. My earliest writing was therapeutic and got me through a very difficult life experience that I couldn’t otherwise talk about. Teenage years are an emotional time (sometimes downright traumatic) and learning to communicate is essential. Writing helps you to understand yourself just as reading helps you to understand others. So, write to be understood.

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