Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Guest Post *Dallas Woodburn* Makes A Difference-Will You?
Enrich Your Writing Life By Giving Back
I published my first book, There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, when I was in fifth grade. The teachers in my elementary school asked me to speak to their classes about how I pursued my dream of publishing a book. At the beginning of my talk, I asked the kids if any of them were interested in writing, and a few shy hands raised. In contrast, at the end of my talk when I asked the same question, nearly all the hands in the class shot up. The students told me they didn’t know that kids could be writers. They didn’t think of writing as something that could be fun or empowering.
Writing and reading have opened the doors to so many amazing opportunities in my life: a scholarship to attend college, a semester studying abroad in England, a trip to New York City to be a guest on The CBS Early Show. Not only that, but writing gives me a healthy outlet to express my feelings and connect to other people.
I started "Write On! For Literacy" in 2001 to encourage kids to discover confidence, joy, a means of self-expression, and connection to others through reading and writing. My website writeonbooks.org features writing contests, book reviews, fun writing prompts, and more. I still frequently visit classrooms to speak to kids about my writing journey (another published collection of short stories and a novel followed There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose) and I teach a Youth Summer Writing Camp every year in my hometown of Ventura, California.
Perhaps my most rewarding project is an annual Holiday Book Drive that I started to collect and distribute new books to disadvantaged kids who do not have many books of their own. More than 11,000 books have been donated to date.
The biggest lesson I have learned is that it is okay to start small. The first year, my Holiday Book Drive only donated 125 books to the local Boys & Girls Club. Still, even small acts make a difference, and small acts often snowball into amazing contributions bigger than you ever dreamed.
What is your passion? How can you use what you love to help others? Get friends involved. Spread the word to your community. Overwhelmingly, I have discovered that people very much want to help, but they don’t always know what they can do. If you can supply a meaningful avenue for people to help, they will join your cause.
One of my favorite quotes is by legendary basketball coach John Wooden: “Make each day your masterpiece.” Don’t wait until next week or month or year to make a difference. Start small. Start today. The most important thing you can do is begin!
BIO: Dallas Woodburn is an award-winning author and journalist whose work has appeared in Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. For her volunteer work, she has been honored with a national Jackie Kennedy Onassis/Jefferson Award, a Congressional Award Gold Medal, and most recently a “Best of You” Award from Glamour Magazine. Learn more about Write On! For Literacy at www.writeonbooks.org.