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Encouraging the Reluctant Writer

I gave Cailey a writing assignment from her Intermediate Language Lessons this week.  The instructions said that she was to select a fairy tale from an expansive number of titles, and simply re-tell the story in her own words.  On paper.

What she interpreted:  “Now you are to take a sharpened #2 pencil, and jab it into your own eye socket.”

This is a child that has been raised being read to, including all manner of fairy tales and other literary works of art.  And get this, SHE EVEN READS HERSELF.  Besides, she’s seen all the Disney movies.  Especially the ones where the mother is killed off before you can settle down and enjoy the popcorn.

You’d think that she’d come up with AT LEAST ONE fairy tale idea to jump start her creative juices.

No.  Instead she moaned, groaned, flopped around on the floor for a while, cried, begged for mercy, and finally simply got angry.  That’s my favorite.

I don’t get it.  I write.  I make my coffee money by writing.  Her older sister writes.  Her sister has written two entire books.  (One which I inadvertently washed in cold on the cottons cycle, and one that I accidentally deleted FOREVER on her computer profile…she writes under an assumed name now, in the bowels of her closet…)  But still, she writes.

There’s a good deal of shared DNA here.  And yet, the second born wants no part of writing down thoughts, ideas, stories, or even a grocery list.

Evidently, I have a reluctant writer.  Which is a shame since we all know how important essay writing is for test taking and college work.  Both of which are in her future.

I did find some help when reading an article at Mom’s Homeroom on how to conquer essay writing fears.  Most of our states have adopted something called the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) which is a nationwide group of goals that help with consistency in school districts.  There are Common Core expectations for writing an informative or expository essay per grade level.  This gives you an idea what your child should master and when.

But what I really liked about this article was a way to break the writing down into easy components.  In other words, as the title of the article implies, the child is showing the paper who is boss.  This is where the acronym comes from:  Brainstorm, Organize, Support, Scan.  Easy to remember, easy directions to follow.

Therefore, far before Cailey joins Classical Conversations in the 7th grade, and will be expected to produce two papers per week (using IEW), we’ll be taking bite sized pieces to solving the writing puzzle.  I do believe that every child can be taught to write, even if they are certain that writing will lead to pain and misery.

At the end of the day, Cailey had written her fairy tale story in the form of Cinderella.  But with a bit of an edge.  And I can divulge that the evil step-mother bore a striking resemblance to the writer’s bedraggled mother.  But sadly, she met with an untimely death.

And the remaining characters all lived happily ever after.  Or at least until the next writing assignment.

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4 Responses to Encouraging the Reluctant Writer

  • I have one of those too. Thanks for the link……off I go!

    My favorite excuse to “It’s time to write a little on your story..” is “I’m thinking about it”. Which NEVER moves to writing about it! {sigh}

  • I have had success with setting a timer. Sometimes they think it will take all stinkin’ day long when really if you tell them that they have to sit and write for four minutes they can do that, get on a roll and then just keep going. And if they don’t, you can always try a little later! (Also, does she HAVE to handwrite it? Could she type it out? Use fun pens/markers?)

  • I get “I’m thinking about it” a lot! And I have used Tara’s idea to great success, as well. It’s baffling to have such a reluctant writer under the roof of such a prolific one!

  • have you seen the book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” by Chris VanAllsburg? I used this as story starters – or enders – with my kids and they are fantastic! (Great story behind the book, too)