Writing Professionally Changed How I View Language Arts

When I look back on the first pieces I published, they read like a high school essay. I always thought my writing was good. Every English teacher I had gave me an A on my writing assignments–even in college. It wasn’t until I started writing professionally that I realized everything I was taught, was wrong.


Writing is not about spewing forth what you think the teacher wants to see in an assignment. I always did this, I put forth beautifully written essays that said nothing, showed no voice. All my essays proved was that I could write an essay that conformed perfectly to the rules of essay writing and that I was really good at knowing what the teacher wanted to read. This is not good writing, it is good structural format and the writing was excruciatingly boring. There was no voice. It was mechanical.


Working professionally, I learned that in order for writing to be good–it needs a voice. In traditional schools and language arts programs, nothing is done to help young writers find their voice. All the writing prompts in the world will not get you there, voice comes with experience, and experience comes from writing–lots of writing.


How do you get kids to write? Mine hate it, many of yours probably do too. The best thing you can do to get your kids writing is to back off. Forget grammar, sentence structure and spelling. Forget about the rewrite. Set aside time every week or several days a week for them to write in a journal. The only rule is that they have to write at least one sentence worth of words. The other rule is–you cannot look at it if they do not want you to see it. Respect that, eventually it will change.


When you give a writing assignment, place the heaviest emphasis on voice. You want to know why your child feels the way they do about the subject. You cannot teach feeling and voice, you have to coax it out of them. If you ask them to write about a passage they have read and they say, “it was dumb.” Go with that, tell them you respect their opinion but you want to know why it was dumb, boring, stupid, or “I hated it.” What exactly made your child feel that way. If you get something positive–great. You have a lot to work with. Ask your child what excited you, how did it impact you, what was it that made it so interesting.


Good writing is about voice, feelings, and being able to convey that emotion to the reader. Encourage your child to write from the heart. When this is accomplished, their writing skills will soar.



Posted on 22 July '12 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Homeschooling 101, Homeschooling through high school. No Comments.

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