Writing Tips

So, you want to participate in A Day in the Life of Ukraine? Great!

Below, you’ll see a few suggestions, whether you’re writing by yourself or using this activity in class, a club, or with friends.

FIRST: Remember, this is your story. No one else will have quite the same day as you, and this is what makes your story special. Don’t sell yourself short, thinking ‘My day isn’t that interesting…” Please, share with us!

Review everyday activity verbs

[to wake up, to brush one’s teeth, to go to school, to do chores, to eat dinner, etc.]

  • discuss daily routines
  • ask students to produce verbs
  • clarify/ correct/ add as necessary
  • develop a word/verb bank

Review the present simple and the past simple

Every morning I walk my dog before school [present simple], but today I woke up late and so my dad walked my dog [past simple].

  • Using the verb word bank, discuss which actions happen routinely and which happen occasionally.
  • Practice using the present simple with verbs that happen routinely.
  • Consider creating another word bank for verbs which happen only occasionally, or might be predicted to happen on December 13, and practice using these in the past simple.

Review transition words and phrases

[then, later, next, after that, etc.]

  • Ask students to describe a process or to tell a story and ask listeners to create a list/ bank of all of the transition words/ phrases used.
  • Alternately, give students a text rich in transitions and ask students to highlight them.

Read good creative non-fiction

Creative non-fiction

  • tells a true story
  • uses language carefully and powerfully
  • describes by showing, not telling
  • is relate-able to readers
  • includes both action and reflection
  • has more than one layer of meaning, often a universal theme

Keep a journal

  • make a list or notes of the day’s events
  • expand on especially interesting happenings, both with actual details and emotional reactions/ feelings
  • read others’ journals and blogs– the entries of friends and other famous people [Anne Frank, George Washington, Virginia Woolf, Peace Corps Volunteers, etc.]
  • write journal entries in the form of letters to a friend– this will help to keep your audience clear and consistent and your personal voice strong

Become a reporter

Take on the perspective of an outsider observing your own life.

  • What would someone else be surprised by?
  • What do you that makes total sense to you, but would seem confusing or strange to someone else?
  • Why do you do the things that you do? Would these reasons be clear to others?

Explode a moment

Choose one minute from your day and describe it in detail.

  • Choose your minute wisely! Why are you choosing this minute?
  • use sensory information: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, physical feelings/sensations
  • use figurative language: metaphors, similes, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia

Try this exercise once per day and see how it changes your awareness.

Consider genres

You may submit your entry in the form you think will work best. Consider…

  • poem
  • story
  • essay
  • news article
  • letter
  • diary entry
  • etc!

Read examples of each of these genres to decide which will best suit your voice and what you have to say.

If, as Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” let us improve our lives by examining them and by sharing what we find. Maybe this project will lead you to include more writing in your life, to live and observe with a greater sense of awareness, or to read about the lives of others with greater interest. Whatever it is, enjoy each day in your life, whether you’re writing about it or not. πŸ™‚

As a side note, I truly believe that the more stories we tell, the more stories happen to us! Become a storyteller, and your life becomes more interesting!

How will you prepare? What other suggestions do you have for writers across Ukraine? Your ideas are welcome– please share!



  1. Dear Melissa,
    Thanks for your great job in the project! I am sure it will be a success. Rivne school # 15 is very enthusiastic about participating in this day writing. Thanks for a detailed lesson plan and the hints.
    Olena Franchuk
    English teacher

  2. Dear Melissa,
    This project is really worth doing,the writing Olympiad was a success last year.My students Kerch school #1(Crimea) are looking forward to taking part in any creative projects and contests.I expressed my gratitude to you at TESOL Zitomir conference at your workshop.This day in December will be a great event !
    Belskaya Svetlana

      1. THank you for great ideas this time. Hope we’ll be active this year as well.
        Best wishes,
        Tetyana and students from Sambir, Lviv region

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