1. When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
2. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
3. Don’t romanticize your “vocation.” You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle.” All that matters is what you leave on the page.
4. Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
5. Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
6. Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
7. Work on a computer that is disconnected from the Internet.
8. Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
9. Don’t confuse honors with achievement.
10. Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand, but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.
“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.”
Mighty Writers has won a prestigious 2015 Edward R, Murrow Award for an audio documentary titled GOING BLACK: THE LEGACY OF PHILLY SOUL RADIO.
GOING BLACK: THE LEGACY OF PHILLY SOUL RADIO, a two-hour audio documentary that aired on public radio stations around the country in 2014 and again in 2015, recaptured the glory days (1950—1979) of Black radio in Philadelphia.
We’re often asked how we chart writing progress. How we know if kids are becoming better writers.
We have a few answers.
We collect report cards, so we see how each Mighty kid is doing in English and language arts.
We also have a computer program that analyzes writing progress. The kids type their stories into a template, press submit and the program evaluates their writing. It may be they need to be more descriptive. Or maybe there’s too much description.
The kids revise, and resubmit. We track their scores over time.
There’s another way we judge how kids are progressing with writing. It has nothing to do with report cards or computer programs. It’s purely observational. It’s called confidence.
Early into our launch of Mighty Writers, one of our little Mighty guys stopped me as I was coming through the front door. He had a question.
“How do you get the money to run Mighty Writers?”
“Any way I can,” I told him, adhering to my vow to always speak truth to Mighty power.
He thought about that for a moment. I could see the self-esteem he’d earned at Mighty Writers grow right in front of me.
“Know what I’m going to do, Mr. Tim? I’m going to open up a sneaker store and give the money to Mighty Writers. And then when I grow up, I’m going to be a lawyer and buy you a whole lot of Mighty Writer houses.”
I didn’t doubt him. I had only one request.
“Can you put that in writing?”
Thank you to our friends at Al Dia for such a swell video.
Self Employed, Brian Parkhill Rare Books
Hometown: Jenkintown, PA
How long have you been a Mighty Volunteer? Since February 2014.
What do you do at Mighty Writers? I volunteer on Tuesday afternoons with the Mighty Writers Academy.
What is your favorite thing to write now? “Fortunately… Unfortunately…” stories with my young friends at MW.
I have never felt more connected to my neighborhood.
What makes someone a Mighty Writer? A Mighty Writer enjoys language and language arts for their own sake, but also understands the power of practicing writing as a major key to personal growth and happiness, stronger communication, healthier relationships and a better career.
What keeps you coming back to Mighty Writers? I continue coming back to MW because of the sense of community and because the kids are so much fun. I have lived in South Philly over fifteen years, and I have never felt more connected to my neighborhood.