Write Now Newsletter – August 2005

by | Aug 3, 2005 | Write Now Columbus Essay Archives

“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.”

– Ellen Goodman, American journalist (1941 – )

Hi Writers:

From time to time I get questions from parents about what to do with a child who shows talent in writing. We’e about to head back into the school daze and while I primarily teach adults, I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.

The main rules are simple: kids need to read, to write, and to have time alone.

Encouragement is wonderful, if you have no hidden agenda. Young people can smell your real motive from 500 yards! So let him write his head off and if he wants to make up stories or interview people or write letters to the editor, fantastic. Let him write write write write write!

Until she turns 25, tell your child that every word she writes has promise and is completely wonderful. By the age of 26, she might have developed enough tenacity to be ready for someone else to review her work.

Let your child to do whatever he must do to pass those awful proficiency tests, but remember that the 5-paragraph essay never won the Pulitzer Prize. Real writing comes from the heart. It takes time. Writers don’t begin to develop their deep minds until they are in their twenties.

It may seem that I’m being overly dramatic, but I’m simply trying to point out that too much structure or too much criticism of a young writer can set the inner critic in stone and the inner critic will develop on it’s own without the help of a parent or the school system. I spend my days helping people unlearn things that “helpful” adults taught them when they were children.

And while you’re at it, be certain to encourage your young ones to stare at puddles. Make sure they are spending enough time looking out the window at strangely shaped trees, walking slowly in the rain and pondering three-legged dogs. This all makes for great writers.

Writing is hard work. Let your children be. They need to rest up for the long road ahead.

Nita (and for god’s sake don’t read their journals) Sweeney
(c)2005 by Nita Sweeney

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