Where to Start a Student in Creative Writing Who Thinks They Can't Write
I personally believe that
ANYONE can write.
Certainly, anyone's writing can be improved with some
non-critical pointers, and a lot of writing. The advice I
think you'll get from many writers about learning how to
write is "write, write, WRITE!" This is decent advice, IF
the student loves to write.
That said, you have a student who doesn't want to write
because they don't believe they can. I've seen this many
times, and it's born from various phenomenon. It doesn't
take much to stop someone young from creating, just a
comment or disapproving glance can do it, and this could
come from any direction...friends, siblings, the critical
aunt or uncle, the thoughtless instructor, you name it.
When I first started piloting the
courses, which are the oldest of my courses (around 9
years), I was teaching at a private school and had around 50
Creative Writing I
. As they started, I would hear moan and groans and
comments like "You expect me to write 10 WHOLE SENTENCES!"
This type of assignment seemed impossible and abusive to
them. I demanded they persist. The result was that two
years later, wrapping up
Creative Writing IV
(as an example), one student came to me with a 40 page
story (supposed to be 1/10th that length...) and apologized
that he wasn't finished. Many of those students have gone
into the arts, some as writers.
It got to the point where, in class, they would (entirely on
their own) share stories. In fact, there is an early
assignment where the student is asked to finish the story
which starts: "Julie came down the stairs for breakfast...".
The BOYS in the class created a competition to see who
could kill Julie off in the most horribly gruesome manner.
(They were boys.) And this is very important...I DID
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO STOP THIS. In fact, I encouraged it.
This got the entire group excited about creating. They
stopped this silliness after a while and expanded their
writing interests beyond Julie being zapped by ray gun from
Mars, and the Earth opening at the bottom of the stairs to
consume her. It took a while, but their writing and THEIR
INTEREST IN WRITING improved markedly.
Another point, a bit trickier. I had several of those
students ASK if it was alright in their work to use
profanity. I told them, "IT'S YOUR STORY, WRITE WHATEVER
YOU WANT TO." I know this may be a sore point for some nice
people out there, but these
courses are NOT "manners" courses. (BY THE WAY, I
PUBLISHED A MANNERS COURSE TWO NIGHTS AGO ON CURR CLICK!)
courses, and the student MUST be allowed to create create
create without restriction, "constructive" or critical help
of any kind should be avoided at all costs! The
parent/tutor/friend's job is to read, understand what has
been written, appreciate it, and send the student back to
work, AND THAT'S IT! Anything else will hinder the result
we all want...students who ENJOY writing, and who are
improving at it every day! Let the courses provide ideas
the student can use to improve their skills. If you see
spelling errors, list them as part of the spelling program
WITHOUT COMMENT PLEASE! Grammar should be addressed
separately and NEVER AS A PART OF THE CREATIVE WRITING
Creative writing, as is true of any art, is a form of
self-expression (though intended to be shared, and to affect
others). There is nothing so fragile as self-expression,
especially in the young. The world is tough, and will
freely offer its disapproval of any and all creative acts.
Home school, as with any and all school situations, really
should be a safe haven. The
courses are designed to encourage creativity. They do NOT
teach manners, grammar, or spelling...just the joy of
authorship, along with those rules found helpful.
To look at Creative Writing courses for ages 5-6, and for
preliterate students (yes, that's right), click here.
look at Creative Writing courses for ages 7-8, and for
students who are developing literacy, click here.
look at Creative Writing I, the first, simple course in our
Lower/Upper School Creative Writing program, click here.
look at all our Upper School Creative Writing courses,
including CW I-V, click here,
look at our Master's Courses in Creative Writing, click
Connect The Thoughts