The 6 Rules of Writing Practice (+ The Ugly Truth)
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—
The Six Basic Rules of Writing Practice
1. Keep your hand moving
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.
2. Don’t cross out
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.
3. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar
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.
4. Lose control
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.
5. Don’t think. Don’t get logical
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.
6. Go for the jugular
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