BEAR — The passion to sit down and gather information, along with his thoughts, and then expressing them into words has been a creative outlet for John Riddle ever since he was a freshman in high school.
Mr. Riddle’s penchant for writing eventually led him to pen articles for newspapers, national magazines, online articles and 35 books that span a wide variety of subjects.
So, in 2002, Mr. Riddle — a resident of Bear — decided to share his love for writing by starting I Love To Write Day, which has taken place every Nov. 15 since then.
“When I was a freshman in high school, I discovered I really enjoyed writing short stories and essays,” Mr. Riddle said. “No ‘one’ individual inspired me to write, but I have always enjoyed reading a wide variety of books, and that exposed me to lots of authors.
“I like the idea of creating something from nothing. Many people look at a blank page or a computer screen and don’t know what to write … but I enjoy the challenge.”
Naturally, the Delaware author figured there are many other people who enjoy it as well — hence, his idea for I Love To Write Day.
For him, Nov. 15 is a chance to celebrate with others something that he has loved for the past 40 or so years — the art of writing.
“The only time writing is ‘work’ is when I have procrastinated enough that my deadline is staring me in the face,” Mr. Riddle said. “The hardest part of any writing project is just getting started, and I have talked with writers and authors all across the country that feel the same way.
“And yes, it is very therapeutic.”
The idea for a special day blossoms
Mr. Riddle said that, in the spring of 2002, he was driving from his home in Delaware to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s conference in Asheville, North Carolina, where he was scheduled to speak.
His oldest daughter, Bonnie, a college student at the time, was in the car with him and was interested in attending some of the workshops.
While they were passing through the Richmond, Virginia, area, his mind started to wander off as he thought that now, as a writer and author, he knew he needed a unique website, and he came up with the name, I Love To Write Day.
Mr. Riddle then remembered the days when he worked in the fundraising field years ago and always loved planning special events.
One time he tried to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by having the largest number of people dance the “Twist” in one location. He even got singer Chubby Checker to tape some public service announcements to help promote the event.
“It wasn’t long before the idea of holding the world’s largest party for writers came about,” he said. “I told Bonnie to remember this moment, because I officially declared November 15 to be I Love To Write Day, and I knew that it would be a success.”
Mr. Riddle said his goal for I Love To Write Day is simple, “People of all ages are encouraged to write something: a poem, a letter, an essay, start a novel, finish a novel … the possibilities are endless.
“Hundreds of people emailed or wrote to me shortly after the first I Love To Write Day. They shared samples of what they had written, and how they enjoyed writing again.
“Unfortunately, many people have stopped writing, and the thought of putting words on a piece of paper, or a computer screen, can be a frightening experience.
“I urge everyone to remember how important writing can be.”
By the time Nov. 15 finally rolled around back in 2002, Mr. Riddle said that more than 11,000 schools across the country had signed up to hold special ILTWD events and activities.
Bookstores, libraries, churches, community centers and even a few malls joined in the fun.
The governors of nine states have officially proclaimed Nov. 15 as I Love To Write Day in their states and urge all of their residents to find time to write and celebrate the day.
Keeping the tradition alive
Mr. Riddle continues to do his part, even when it’s not Nov. 15, as his byline continues to appear in major publications across the country, and he has written articles for more than 200 websites.
He was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the Lindwood/Chester area. He joined the Navy at 17 years old, just a few weeks after graduating from Saint James High School in Chester in 1970.
Mr. Riddle settled in Delaware in 1974 after marrying his wife.
He said he has been working out of his home office since 1996, adding, “I’ll do anything to keep from getting a real job, LOL!”
“I started out writing freelance newspaper articles which led to freelance magazine articles, and when the internet was launched, I moved on to online articles,” said Mr. Riddle. “In between all of those projects, I discovered I really, really enjoyed writing books.
“I have written business books, health books, education books, a few novels and even some children’s titles.”
And when Nov. 15 rolls around in a couple of weeks, Mr. Riddle said people should not put pressure on themselves to write the next bestseller, but simply enjoy the process of writing, if only for a day.
“Spend some time writing something today,” he said. “You don’t have to set a goal of writing a novel, unless you have wanted to write one for a long time … just write something that is short, and meaningful to you,” he said.
“Writing can be fun, but also challenging. People need to be challenged, and writing is but one of many creative ways to express yourself.”
Mr. Riddle added that he is very excited about this year’s I Love To Write Day because he has been hearing about activities being planned all across the United States — and it all started during a car ride with his daughter in the spring of 2002.
“I Love To Write Day has the potential to launch the career of the next John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, Stephen King or Toni Morrison,” Mr. Riddle said.
He added that those interested in participating can visit the official website at ilovetowriteday.com and learn how they can join in the fun.
“When people become stronger writers, they become better communicators … and everyone wins,” Mr. Riddle said.