A Family of Writers: Handing Down a Writing Tradition

A Heritage of Writing

My family has a tradition of writing that goes back many generations. This post celebrates that heritage and gives ideas about starting a writing tradition in your own family. With encouragement, we see the younger generation taking an interest and wanting to write as well.

My mother, Gail Martin, didn’t realize that her own mother, Ruth McGhee, was a writer until she discovered some of her writings after her death. Ruth entered a screenplay writing contest in 1924 and won second place.

Ruth Vining McGhee of Tyro KS

My grandmother, Ruth Vining McGhee, who entered the writing contest in 1924.

It wasn’t until her children were grown that my mother had the time and energy to devote to her own writing. She hadn’t saved her childhood efforts or the stories she wrote in high school study hall.

In posting her essays and poems to the Our Echo website, she encouraged her daughters, and several grand-daughters to contribute their writing as well. Several great-great-grandchildren have entered stories and essays in school contests and the Reading Rainbow competition.

How much is genetic and how much is fostered from one generation to the next, I don’t know. It’s a wonderful tradition to share across the generations.

I’ve included some ideas for encouraging a writing tradition in your own family.

The photo is my aunt CJ Garriott about to open the first shipment of her new book about her life.

C.J. Garriott receiving her first published book

Gail Martin’s sister, C.J. Garriott receives her first batch of books.

Get the Whole Family to Writing

Writing is a wonderful activity to bring the family together. Helping my mom organize her essays into a book for publishing was a great bonding experience for the two of us.

It doesn’t have to be as advanced as creating a book, though. You can write and post that writing online. You can print your writing out from your computer and make little booklets for friends and family. There are many ways to use your writing.

I Should Be Writing

by Virginia Allain

(a poem I wrote for my ever-busy sister on her birthday)

 I wish I could focus on writing,

As I see others do.

I dream of a book cover featuring my name.

Yet I am distracted by all that must be done.

I used to create words in my pretty writing room

But now I organize a writer’s convention,

fill the trailer for a camping weekend,

drive to doctor’s appointments,

take the dog to the vet,

mow the lawn,

organize an evening of cards with old friends,

attend my spouse’s high school reunion,

pick up the clutter in the living room,

babysit the grandkids…

I seem to be filling everyone’s needs,

but I’m really avoiding the blank piece of paper on my desk.


McGhee family writers

Ruth McGhee (Gail’s mother) and her daughters, granddaughters, great-granddaughters who write. This isn’t even all of the writers in the family.

3 thoughts on “A Family of Writers: Handing Down a Writing Tradition

  1. Pingback: A Is For Ads | Discovering Mom

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