I'm Mary Jo.
Ambassador of Sass.
And supporter of young writers everywhere!
Welcome to WriteLikeCrazy - where young writers grow.
Can I tell you a story?
I didn’t intend to be a teacher.
I was a writer.
Writing is what I loved since the third grade.
Writing is what I studied. Writer is how I identified myself.
But when my 9-year-old son came home from school in tears and declared that he hated writing, my heart broke and I realized that the creative writing taught in schools was debilitating students’ confidence and creativity, not building it.
I needed to take action.
David’s wild imagination was stifled by the boring and frustrating lesson plans taught in the classroom.
The curriculum assigned writing topics like a penance.
The focus on punctuation and supporting sentences killed any silliness or bravery my young writer might otherwise explore.
And, if you're here, I'm guessing your young writer is struggling, too.
In order to grow and thrive, Writers need creativity, freedom, community and confidence.
At my son’s suggestion, I started a young writer’s group for free at my library.
Each Thursday for six consecutive weeks, my new young writers group sat in a circle at the Downers Grove Public Library, learning the craft of fiction writing, disguised as a silly themed writing prompt.
What if it rained hot dogs?
We explored world creation (setting) by writing about aliens.
We added tension (conflict) by building stories around a natural disaster.
We discovered plot and story (cause and effect) by asking what if it rained hot dogs and mustard?
Were the workshops beneficial? Were they fun?
I honestly wasn't sure what would come of this little group.
Would my ideas make an impression?
Would the kids have fun, learn something about writing - -learn something about themselves?
Magic was happening.
The most timid children who wouldn’t speak on day one were excitedly bursting with laughter by day two and ready to share their own stories by day three.
Parents were amazed at their children's writing progress, but more, the boost of confidence their kids gained in our short time together.
The energy, ideas and excitement of my first little group of grade school writers was infectious.
I was hooked. I was a teacher.
From there, parents approached me to teach at a local non-profit organization, called Super Saturdays.
My Super Saturday students begged for a summer camp, which I developed and began teaching every summer, during my one week vacation from the corporate world.
That was ten years ago.
Since then, I’ve taught as:
- a writer-in-residence to grades K-8, bringing the love of words and storytelling into the schools
- as a key note speaker for Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence, speaking on the benefits of journal writing
- I even taught the teachers over a spring break weekend workshop -helping them create fun, engaging lesson plans they could implement in their classrooms.
- Find my full portfolio here
Benefits of creative writing have no limitations.
My students have gone on to win awards in:
- the PTA Reflections contest
- the Young Authors’ competition
- a National award in Speech
- one student uses her skills to write and perform her own songs on YouTube
- while another is studying broadcasting in college
This demonstrates the far-reaching benefits of learning to write well,
and more importantly,
developing the inner confidence children need to share their stories and ideas.
I created this site with a goal:
to Inspire, Challenge, and Encourage
young writers and those who support them.
I created this site to start a Writing Revolution.
Will you join me?
Who am I really, really?
I'm an introvert posing as an extrovert. I rocked purple hair for a year, while adulting in the corporate world.
I am a bit obsessed with Halloween and actually worked as an actor in a professional haunted house for 4 years (alongside my teenage son.)
I own more books than I can read in three lifetimes, but will continue to accumulate them, because I just can’t stop (won’t stop.) I have a small problem with Pinterest (some may define it as addiction, but whatever.)
Nature fills my soul. Trees are my spirit animal.
And, I am a story fanatic. I consume stories through TV series, independent films and of course, books. Glorious books.
In between these shenanigans, I’m raising a few boys, a few dogs, a husband and the desire to reach young writers: to share what I know, to provide support they’ll need as they struggle with doubt, and to curate the best outside resources that will expand on what I offer.
Oh, and I speak in fluent movie quotes.
Shake ‘n bake.