The Writing Process: Step 1 "Ideas"
Writing is a process, but many high school students (homeschooled or not) do not grasp this concept.
They are confronted with a blank piece of paper and a kind of paralysis ensues. They think they are supposed to pick up a pen and complete a beautiful piece of writing without understanding that it takes several steps to reach that goal.
The different kinds of thought that go into creating a good piece of writing fascinate me. When I work with young writers, I try to share this "behind-the-scenes" look at the process. It seems to empower them for the journey, making it less frustrating for them to take several stabs at the same piece of writing until it becomes really strong and beautiful.
I've recorded a new series of vlogs that break the writing process down into manageable steps. Here's the first in the series:
Some students are paralyzed by a blank piece of paper placed in front of them. For those students there is a simple cure for paralysis: take the paper away. There is no reason writing has to begin on paper, and as a seasoned writer myself, I know that I rarely have anything to jot down until I've been working on the IDEAS in my mind for some time first. Did you know that many students do not realize this? They think that their job is to pick up a pen and craft a well-constructed, beautiful and inspiring piece of writing, thus fulfilling their assignment. No wonder they feel intimidated!
First, just talk about the subject for a moment. A descriptive piece about their favorite place to be alone? Let's chat!
Where do you like to be for some alone-time? What do you like about it? What does it look like? Sound like? Smell like? What time of day do you enjoy it the most, or does that not matter?
Now reflect back what the student said in a simple summary: Ok, so you love to get in the hammock in the back yard, especially after dinner. You can see the house, the garden, and the woods behind the fence, and you can smell whatever's blooming. The mosquitoes are the only downside, yes?
Not only has your student gotten a start on the ideas about which he will write, he also feels personally validated because you just showed him that you were really listening to what he said and paying attention to something that he cares about. (Free "Good-Mom-Points"!)
Once a writer feels more confident, he can do this step by himself by having an internal dialogue in his head: Ok, where do I like to go? Hmmm....how would I describe it to Mom if she was sitting here? Etc.