National Day on Writing Events:
A Campus Sampler

Compiled by Doug Hesse, U of Denver, President, NCTE.

The National Day on Writing, created by The National Council of Teachers of English and designated by an act of Congress, is October 20.  Many campuses hold writing-related events that day.  Following are some people have shared with me.

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Sarah Stanley.

We call it CoW. 11-3pm on a Saturday in October on or around the 20th, sponsored by UAF English. This year’s theme is Food Tells Stories and we ( science outreach bridge programs, multiple non-profits) host interactive literacy workshops at the public library. Our audience is at risk youth and its all about reflective creativity and FUN! We are working to incentivize writing throughout the year–delicious food (soup and bread is served)


Arizona State University

Sean Moxley-Kelly (Assistant Director of Writing Programs).

This year we are planning on setting up a “Why I Write” photo booth on the campus mall. We will have people write why they write on a big sheet of paper, pose with it for a photo, and then encourage them to tweet that photo at NCTE (or give us permission to do so). We’ll set up an interesting background for the photos or a big frame for them to stand in.
Last year we asked people to write reasons they write on small colorful pieces of paper, then “quilted” those together into a large art piece. We’ve been able to hang these quits at other events we host. We also have used sidewalk chalk, notecards, etc. We always set up a booth on the campus mall for these activities.
Here are links to some photo albums from past years:
2015: (you can see the process and results of some of our “quilting” halfway down this album)


U of Arizona

Dr. D.R. Ransdell,

We have several contests going on, and we’ll have a 4-hour drop-in event with decals, pens, snacks.


Bowling Green State University

Lee Nickoson.

We have a few things planned: we have permission to take over the University’s Instagram account for the day and will post #WhyIWrite pics throughout the day, we will have a Post-It party at the Union from noon-2:00 on 10/20 in which students will be asked to contribute via a Post-It to a collage on the Union’s windows around the #WhyIWrite hashtag, and from 2:00-3:00 we will host an all-university write-in on the Quad with food and drink provided.


Bristol Community College

Howard Tinberg.

On Oct. 20th, my students will be drafting and sharing inquiry-based research essays. They will be asking Big Questions (such as “Can Gaming Make a Better World?” or “Why Do We Dream?”) and will be reading widely during the inquiry process. The link for the assignment:


College of Staten Island CUNY

Christine Martorana.

This year we are hosting an outdoor postcard writing campaign. We are going to invite people to write letters on the postcards to real or made up people, featuring real or made up events, based on the photo/image on the postcard. We will then display the postcards in the English Department following the event.


Colorado State University-Pueblo

Jason Saphara.

CSU-Pueblo and its Center for Teaching and Learning will host a week of writing and create a “Humans of CSU-Pueblo” Facebook page. The week of writing will start with a workshop led by Dr. Genesea Carter from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. CSU-Pueblo students will then interview students, faculty, for the “Humans of CSU-Pueblo” page.


University of Denver

Doug Hesse.

The University of Denver has a campus-wide “One Book/One Prompt” activity this year, led by the writing program, in which all faculty, staff, and students are invited to respond to a single invitation: a time when they encountered something strange, foreign, or new. We’re holding a showcase event, “Encountering Stories,” October 19, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. See the Writing Program website at On the day itself, we’re setting up a photo booth; passersby will jot “why I write” on a sheet of paper, and we’ll photograph them holding the sheet. We’ll tweet out those who give permission, and we’ll make a collage of everything.


Fairfield University

Elizabeth Hilts.

Colin Hosten.

We are planning two events, both focusing on “Writing as Healing.” The first is an interactive workshop featuring speakers who will share their experience of Writing as Healing and offer writing prompts for participants; in addition, University-sponsored groups will provide opportunities for students to consider how writing can promote social justice, humanitarian efforts, and personal growth. The second event is a reading/panel discussion featuring faculty members and grad students (who are also working writers) sharing their work and discussing the connection between writing and healing on any level.

We will host mini-workshops around the theme “Writing As Healing” during the day, followed by an evening reading featuring first- and second-year students, with a panel discussion about their individual writing processes.


Georgia Southern University

Natalie James.

We will set up tables outside our student union and department building. At the tables, we’ll have swag (and candy) and information about our Writing Major. For fun activities, we’ll be having group horror story writing (sometimes called “exquisite corpsing”) on large white boards or poster paper. The way this works is one student will start the story by writing 3 sentences. The first 2 sentences will then be covered, so the next student can only see the last sentence written and continue the story from there. We’ll also have a one-sentence horror story contest on twitter/facebook. We may also use a gumball machine to distribute writing prompts to students.


Hampton University

Craig Wynne.

We’re planning a Taboo! tournament.


University of Louisville

Bronwyn Williams, Director of the University Writing Center.

At the University Writing Center, our National Day on Writing Event this year will center around the “How I Write” series we run on our Writing Center Blog. In that series local writers, both at the university and in the community, answer a series of five questions about where and how they write, their favorite advice about writing, etc. For the National Day on Writing we will be encouraging people to answer these questions. They can take the time to answer all five questions for the blog or, if they just want to answer one, we will have sheets of newsprint out for them to write on that we will post on our windows or they can post on our Twitter feed. This year the National Day on Writing coincides with the first day of the Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, so we are also encouraging conference participants to stop by our new Writing Center space and take part in the “How I Write” activities. Our blog can be found at and the “How I Write” entries are tagged with that title.


Kaplan University

Amy Sexton.

We held a student workshop titled “How to Write Well in Your Classes”. The webinar covered why writing matters and gave students tips for writing well in various disciplines, including in technology and science.


Moravian College

Crystal Fodrey.

The past two years, I asked students to share “Why I Write” on poster boards in the student union where they could also engage in a number of writing-related activities. This year, Writing Center tutors and Writing Fellows are developing the activities for the student union, and my undergraduate research assistant is planning a roundtable discussion on “What is ‘Good Writing’ Across the Disciplines?” which many first-year writing students are required/encouraged to attend.


North Dakota State University

Kelly Sassi.

Justin Atwell

Karen Peirce,

We are holding a “Write-In” on campus, during which we will support students in drafting and polishing a Letter to the Next President. Students can compose in a variety of forms, including editorial cartoon. Here is a link to our blogpost about the event, with additional links to more information:

English dept. affiliates set up a booth in the student union, and as students pass, we ask them to contribute short writings on certain prompts around the theme of “I write because…”. Students have various options for what they can write, but my personal favorite is the six-word short story.

Please see our website at


University of Oklahoma

Matthew Jacobson.

For National Writing Day, the Office of First-Year Composition at the University of Oklahoma is hosting our first annual Celebration of Writing event, which includes writing workshops for students, faculty, and staff; “Write Where You Are,” a keynote address by Rilla Askew, and an awards ceremony for outstanding first-year composition students and instructors. For more information, please visit


Oklahoma State University

Elsa Klingensmith.

We are going to do Blackout Poetry, create a collaborative word cloud on what writing means to us (using post-it notes & a poster board), play Hangman & Boggle.


Texas A&M University at Qatar

N: Dania Jalees; I: E:

Our learning center has a large space on our campus that is normally reserved for the event. This gives us the flexibility to spread out and plan several activities/games or booths of various types. Some of our activities from previous years are: lipograms, giant scrabble (made with letters written on post-its stuck on a large board) and calligraphy; this year, we had our student peer tutors brainstorm ideas for activities that they get to conduct on the day, like “Blackout Poetry” where the end result is to be mailed to a recipient; “Can you Haiku?” where multiple students work together in two teams to compete for the best haiku; and “Mini-Journals” with writing prompts inside balloons or paper cubes, and notebooks that students can keep to continue writing in, and possibly contribute the material to our annual student anthology for 2017.


Utah State University

Joyce Kinkead.

We have a National Day on Writing banner that is posted in the main hallway of the English Department. Passersby are invited to write post-it notes: “why writing matters to me.” We feature responses of students and faculty in an article in our newsletter.

Star Coulbrooke, Logan City Poet Laureate

Poetry Walkabout: Group walks along river reading poems and talking of poetics on the theme of birds, water, willow; writes together from a prompt; each writer reads their new work aloud to the group.