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News story

Research shows sharp drop-off in girls’ creative writing as they grow older

27 Mar 2017

The write stuff 2017

Literary powerhouse Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE has launched The Write Stuff 2017, a short story competition to discover the next generation of young female writers.

The competition, now in its second year, was developed following our research in 2015 of 16,746 girls, which reveals that only one in four girls aged 14 to 16 (23%) see writing as cool, and nearly six in ten prefer watching TV to reading (59%).

Our research also found that girls who enjoy writing are four times more likely to write above the level expected for their age than girls who don’t enjoy writing (30% vs. 7%). Yet, girls’ attitudes to reading and writing get worse as they grow older. 

Girls aged eight to 11 are nearly twice as likely to enjoy writing compared with girls aged 14 to 16 (72% vs. 38%). In fact, over twice as many girls aged 14 to 16 rarely or never write something that is not for school outside class compared to girls aged eight to 11 (37% vs. 15%).

The Write Stuff 2017 is aimed at girls aged 11-16 and who live in the UK. Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE and The Sunday Times Editorial Director Eleanor Mills are asking girls to write a short, fictional story with a central theme of ‘family’. Claudia Winkleman, journalist and TV presenter, is also supporting the competition and has been named Ambassador for The Write Stuff 2017. 

International bestselling author and young women’s champion Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust. 

I think it’s critical that we encourage girls to write and let their voices be heard through their stories. They need to stand up and be seen and to be part of this world. I also believe we have an enormous number of talented girls in the UK and think this competition is a great way to get them writing and to give them the amazing opportunity of seeing their work being published. It made such a difference to me when my first story was published when I was ten and my future career was sealed.

Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE

The competition will see a selection of the best short stories produced in an ebook by HarperCollins.  The girls whose stories have been selected will also receive an exclusive story-writing masterclass with Barbara Taylor Bradford and The Sunday Times Editorial Director Eleanor Mills in November/December 2017.

How to enter: Entrants are invited to submit a fictional story of no more than 1,000 words on the theme of “family” to, with “WRITE STUFF” in the subject line, by Friday 7 July. Girls: please ensure you get your parent or guardian to enter the competition for you, making sure to include your name, age, contact details and the name of your school. More information about the competition along with writing tips and inspiration can be found here. 

Schools can also download a printable poster to promote the competition here.

National Literacy Trust annual survey of 32,569 children and young people aged 8 to 16 took part during November/December 2015. Of these, 16,746 were girls. The link to the survey can be found here.

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