In coaching young writers over the last ten years, I’ve learned there are five methods for breaking the Reluctant Writer from their boredom and pain, and even invoke a fire in them for crafting stories.
The fifth Method I recommend to get Reluctant Writers excited about writing is the Writer's Notebook, or Writer's Journal.
5. Keep a Writer’s Journal
Every writer needs a Journal. The journal can hold anything, from “Dear Diary, today was the worst.day.ever!” to “I stood up for someone else today” or “I will no longer be afraid of…” or “Five things I noticed today:”
Journals are also great for writers to keep:
Character sketches: jot down descriptions of people or animals or aliens that might appear in your story: describe how they look, talk, act. What are their hobbies, fears, secrets? So many stories have potential when they have rich, developed characters.
Snippets of overheard conversation. Jot down what you hear and fill in the details from your imagination.
Keep story ideas that are sparked while reading books or watching movies.
Keep news clippings. Try your local news. Here are some crazy headlines from just the past week:
“Shots fired during road rage incident.”
“Ottawa woman hit by semi while trying to help a turtle cross the street.”
“Ex-Pro wrestler running for IL Governor”
“Shirtless Chainsaw attacker rammed car before assault.”
Here are some of my favorite books on teaching kids to write creatively:
Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by: Gail Carson Levine
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: Written for the young writer in simple terms, concise chapters and exercises. Tons of ideas on what to write and then, how to develop a story from idea through plot and setting to a satisfying ending.
How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You by: Ralph Fletcher
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: Breaks down each element of writing with specific examples that real writers use, such as Brainstorming: freewriting method, outlining method, web method, timeline method, etc. Gives many ways to do the same thing so young writers can experiment with the method that works best for them.
Live Writing: Breathing Life into Your Words - Strategies, ideas, and tips to fuel you for a lifetime of writing. by: Ralph Fletcher
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: Concrete examples of writing stronger stories, using two chapters on building characters, two chapters on Voice, as well as setting, conflict, adding detail, putting it all together and How to READ like a Writer!
A Parting Note
Young writers flourish best in supportive environments. Show interest and ask questions about your child’s writing, but don’t force them to share what they’ve written. Some things are meant just for the writer, and some things are meant for a few more drafts before they feel comfortable sharing. And some writing is just meant to be an artistic expression of the emotion they’re feeling at the moment, no feedback needed!
Reluctant Writers can be tough to motivate, but it won't happen at once. Give your writer time to find the words and stories they love. Give them space to create ideas and day dream about plots.
I hope you found some inspiration and ideas to motivate your Reluctant Writer through this five-part series.
Stay tuned as I share more ideas on getting those grumpy writers excited to show up at the page!
But, please know - I'm here to help! Send me a note via the Contact Page and let me know about your young writer's struggles. I answer every email. Or better, share your story in the comments, I'm sure there are others out there who need to hear they aren't alone. We can help each other!