I have a terrible habit of not agreeing with folks very often. It isn’t that I disagree, but it is that I don’t agree completely. On the other hand, I occasionally find someone who says something I want to give everyone I see a hug about!
Michael Ellsberg wrote an article recently that clearly explains the problem with college writing (and frankly, the high schools can’t be left out because the teachers learned to write in college 🙂 Here are a couple of his points:
Knowing how to write compelling and persuasive emails, letters, memos, pitches and proposals sets you apart from the masses, who are mediocre communicators. It is one of the most effective skills you could develop for expanding your leadership and impact on the world—and for fattening your wallet.
Anyone hoping to learn writing should stay a thousand miles away from people who write in such a manner. That is, they should stay a thousand miles away from most university professors. Click Here for the Article
It doesn’t get much more exact and on target. His point is that the bureaucratic nature of education gives itself to a conformity in writing so that voice (my way of saying it) is lost. Whenever you are busy copying you are never original.
That really is all there is to it. Some silly notions about the ‘correctness’ of grammar and punctuation and style simply destroy both confidence and uniqueness in writing. Honestly, this is exactly why The Writing Course is so effective for those who dare to follow our wild ideas.
But do you need a writing course at all? Heavens no…you actually just need to write, especially if you are reading some well-written literature! Of course, if good minds give you helpful feedback, then you can learn at the speed of light.
Don’t avoid college, but do recognize it is a GAME that your child (or you) will just have to play. It is best to write like they want (the game) and secretly despise the lessons (despise in a proper and friendly way 🙂 they try to teach you.
Impactful writers are simply going to be rebels of a sort…but Oh how we will need you!
P.S. For a free video on how to give feedback to writers, click here: How to Give Feedback to Writers.
So, writing is one of my joys…but I can’t say I always loved to write. As I was roaming the web I found an article that gives a number of tips on overcoming one’s hatred of writing. Frankly, I didn’t find all the ideas that helpful (or recommendable…is that a good work?…sounds fun to me!). Here’s the article:
Tips for People Who Hate to Write. by –Deb on June 15, 2011. Last time we talked about the reasons people don’t like to write. Today, we’re going to talk about ways to help them. Dictate into a recorder rather than typing. Maybe it’s the …
The best words of the author are right here–
There’s no denying that proof-reading and basic grammar skills are helpful to a writer, BUT they should never, ever stop you from writing in the first place. Getting words–no matter how badly spelled or how imperfectly punctuated–is the hardest part.
You see there’s the rub! People get so busy and obsessed about writing correctly and properly that they never get about the one task that is necessary to learn to write!
Allow me to give you a powerful phrase for yourself and for your children as they learn to write:
THAT’S WHAT EDITORS ARE FOR!
Honestly, that’s all you need. I remember writing one time and luckily trying this phrase when I was being critiqued by someone. It was amazing, but as soon as I said “That’s what the editor is for…,” they magically changed to pay attention to what I was trying TO SAY rather than the exact perfection of how I said it.
There’s my advice…listen to your child’s communication as to his point. Is it a big deal HOW he says it? Isn’t that where the learning is…learning HOW to say it better? Of course, if the IT isn’t worth saying, who cares if it is said well!
Now, you are not free from this point. Honestly, it isn’t about your child…it’s about you too! If you have longed to write, get after it. Just keep saying, “That’s what the editor is for!” And then, pour all the words you can on the page. Some thing good is bound to happen in the midst of the drivil…look to the gold, not the dirt that brings it to you!
I picked up the following comment from a forum related to a homeschool curriculum we use.
If you skip to the bottom (my response), you see a simple reason to start writing BEFORE studying grammar.
— In RobinsonUsers4Christ@yahoogroups.com, “Debbie” <debswebworks@…> wrote:
My son is almost 12, and was a reluctant writer until he did Fred Lybrand’s Writing Course.
He used to do anything to avoid putting pencil on paper.
We went through the Writing Course back in August/September.
It’s November, and my son just finished writing his first novel of 28 chapters.
He’s about to start the “Make it Better” step by going back over it, and putting it into the computer.
He’s also thinking about splitting the chapters right in the middle of the action,
so that his reader won’t be able to put it down (like so many of the books he’s read).
He spends about 20-30 minutes per day writing, without any coaxing or interference from me.
I can hardly believe it. Thanks to Dr. Lybrand.
At this point, I’m not pushing him to do any more than that 20-30 minutes because he is now doing it because he wants to. As he gains confidence in his writing ability, I may push him along, but I’m hopeful that he’ll do it of his own accord. I just don’t want him to
go back to hating to write, which could happen if I push.
Along with “The Writing Course”, we also received “The Essay Course”,
which Fred recommends that we do at age 13-14 I think. Until then, I feel that we’re on a good track for now, letting him write about whatever he wants for 20-30 minutes per day.
“The Essay Course” will get him ready for college, when that time comes.
I feel like I can relax, and just let him blossom as a writer on his own terms for the time being.
Thanks Fred & Jody!
Thanks so much for all your kinds words. Your son is not an exception with our course, but he certainly is on the path to being exceptional!
The problem most of us have with writing and helping our kids write is that we have been taught by the schools to work backwards.
Far better to write and then learn grammar (if you must ;-)…just like we do with talking.
Recently, I was speaking with a friend who is a musician. It struck me in the conversation how foolish it would be to make children learn Music Theory before they ever pick up an instrument.
This is the exact mistake we make (and a few others)— We try to teach them Language (Grammar) Theory before we really let them just learn to make a little music first!
Again, thanks for sharing how we’ve helped a little.
Fred (and Jody) Lybrand
But what I really want to tell you is why I am so interested in teaching writing. I mean today – I guess you’d call me a successful author; eight of my books have been published and many of them have done quite well. I’ve have five children who were homeschooled; three of them collectively have written eight books. And, even the two which haven’t written any books have had their essays used as models for other classes in while in college. That is today. BUT IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THAT…
If you’re finding what I’m sharing to be helpful won’t you please share at facebook, twitter and other places to let others know? Thank you so much!
Fred Ray & Jody Lybrand
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Writing requires a million different skills all at once.
There is little more for a child to practice than writing with this question in mind:
If a child can write something and you can help him see it really is OK, then you are both on a new path. Focus grows from beginning with OK, and so the ‘million things’ can settle down into the distant background of a child’s mind.
You can say that better, but it’s OK 😉
Off to learn,
Fred Ray Lybrand
We Cure Reluctant Writers
One of the big challenges I face in teaching kids to write is getting mom and dad to chill out about writing well. Most of us lock up when too much is on the line! The Ugly Truth is that no one can learn much of anything without practice (especially writing)…AND…when there is too much of an emphasis on writing well during practice, then almost no learning can ever helpfully happen.
Writing needs practice in order for a student to tap into her own language instinct talent. My suggestion for homeschoolers (and others) is to allow your child a day of writing WITHOUT ANY CORRECTIONS by following Natalie Goldberg’s Rules—
Don’t take your fingers from your keyboard or put down your pen because you want to check email, attend to a chore or get something.
Instead, much like during meditation, you must stay present with whatever you are writing.
If you cross out while you write, you are editing your work. There’s a time for self-censorship and for removing what you didn’t mean; it’s after your writing practice is done.
Natalie adds that writers who use pen and paper should write between the lines and on the margins of their notepads.
Again, there’s a time for proof-reading and it’s not during first drafts.
The purpose of writing practice is to free yourself, write on “waves of emotion”, and say things you hadn’t thought possible.
This loss of control is difficult to achieve, and I’ve found it only comes deep into a writing practice session.
Natalie practices Zen (a topic she relates to writing practice in her book), and she cautions against over-thinking the words that appear on the blank page.
Natalie says writers in the middle of writing practice shouldn’t back down from an idea that’s scary or an idea that makes us feel naked.
We should “dive in” because these ideas have “lots of energy”. In other words, if you feel uncomfortable writing about a topic, you need to write about it.
What a powerful gift if your child begins to practice outside of ‘class time’ because he learned to see the power of learning. Practice is like running everyday, rather than making every run like a race. Daily writing doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be done.
Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run
Hope this helps.
Off to learn,
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
As a writer, the creator of The Writing Course, and the father of 5 children who write quite well, I can tell you that there are some really good reasons to work on writing. In fact, I can tell you that my own ability to write as been greatly enhance by courses and books.
And too...nothing quite helps like writing itself. Here are my 18 reasons you (or your kids) should add a writing course to your life-learning:
Finally, practicing writing is the key. Of course, FEAR is the biggest reason we don't write (or practice). The Writing Course is a powerful study and how we conquered fear as a family in this area...including such things as others' opinions, grammar, spelling, punctuation, how to get ideas, and how to guarantee interestingness, etc.
Check it out and tell me what you think.
Off to learn,
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand