The Value of Writing for Senior-Citizen Writers

Jeff Park, Beverley A. Brenna


This qualitative case study explores writing and writing motivations of senior citizens age 65-93 who had entered a public library Writing Challenge. The research questions focused on how and why writing was important to this group as well as what patterns and themes emerged in their work. Data from questionnaires offered that the social aspect of writing appeared to be the strongest motivating factor for participation. Numerous individual reasons for writing were listed, and these, as well as the unique ideas presented in excerpts from the work itself, created a resonant picture of writing in participants’ lives. The resulting anthology contained a predominance of non-fiction, including life writing components within fictive pieces, utilizing the expressive function. Key themes included identity, olden days, progress, humour, nature, religion, and the love of family. Implications involve the importance of community writing events for writers who may not have other means of developing individual writing networks. Further research is recommended related to seniors and literacy to add to what is currently a limited academic viewpoint regarding this population.


Writing; Life-Writing; Public Library Writing Programs; Senior Citizens

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Park & Brenna