The joy of writing & kid bloggers

I recently spoke to a fourth grade class about writing. They’re the accelerated writing group so they were already interested in the topic, luckily.


Oddly, I was more nervous about this than many other public talks I’ve given. One could make the case that I broadcasted live every day for my job to a potential viewership of a million residents in the state, though in actuality it was more like 50,000 morning show viewers.

My coanchor and me on the Wake Up 2day morning show, KHON, 2014
My coanchor and me on the Wake Up 2day morning show, KHON, 2014

However, I was in the studio with five other people and a handful of cameras, so that’s not quite the same. A more parallel example is that I’ve emceed events with 800 people in the room.

As you can see, the news studio is generally empty unless there are guests. Jai Cunningham on the set of Wake Up 2Day, KHON, in 2016.
As you can see, the news studio is generally empty unless there are guests. Jai Cunningham on the set of Wake Up 2Day, KHON, in 2016.

But a couple dozen nine year olds? I rewrote my script four times!

My husband listened to me practice and told me, “Too many words. Keep it simple.” My daughter would lose interest. I’d revise after each.

The day came, and it turns out Claus was wrong. I budgeted 20 minutes for a tight presentation, but the teacher allocated 90! Luckily, I can ad lib, so I ended at 60 minutes.

I can’t believe I was intimidated by kids, but here’s the thing: they’re super honest. Unlike adults, they don’t try to hide it when you’re boring. The last thing I wanted was a paper airplane soaring across the room in the middle of my speech.

I think I did OK. The kids were good listeners, and I had video, pictures, props, lots of questions for them, and handouts to keep it varied.

I told them writing set the foundation for my life, and that I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I like it for many reasons: I like to inform, educate, or entertain people.

I like to express my ideas in an organized way. I like to put my thoughts on paper to help me sort out my feelings about a situation.

Most of the good things I have in my life come from my writing. My career is built on writing, my family comes as a result of it because I met my husband on a story, and my inner peace is aided by my journaling. It’s cathartic, relaxing, and creative for me.

I showed them photos of famous people I’ve met or interesting opportunities I’ve had because I had a job that was based on writing well. I think it opened their eyes to the possibilities.

The person they liked the most was Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, followed by some oohs that I interviewed then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama. The other photo they really liked was of me holding a green sea turtle at work. 

Interviewing Senator Barack Obama, 2008.
Interviewing Senator Barack Obama for KHNL, 2008.

With their teacher’s approval, I created a writing contest. I talked about how to be a food reviewer, and told them I’d post the top three essays in this blog. It could even be about their mom’s cooking (word to the wise: it better be a glowing write up).

They were very excited about a quasi-professional endeavor. I’m excited, too.

While it was more intimidating to speak to grade schoolers, it is also more impactful. These are people I might actually have an influence on. It’d be nice to find out that one of these kids became a famous writer in 15 years.

Stay tuned. There are student blogs to come!

Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. She freelance writes for NMG Network's magazines. In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She volunteers as a board member of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, a Shinto shrine maiden at Daijingyu Temple, a citizen-scientist studying shrimp, and a yoga teacher at a senior center.

Diane Ako has 274 posts and counting. See all posts by Diane Ako

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