Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Writing is a Process

Writing is a process. 

It isn’t a one and done subject. It is not something you can check off your educational to do list in 5th grade and be done. 

The process of writing (pre-writing, 1st draft, revision, and publication) isn’t news to any writer or even to most writing students. Educators teach these four steps to good writing and then students regurgitate them dutifully. 

Sadly, many teachers and curriculums start and stop there. But if writing is a process, then so too is learning to write. The actual work of writing must be taught. We cannot just assign an essay and say: write. This does not teach writing.

Teaching writing skills does not need to be overwhelming or stressful. Simply start at the beginning. Begin with one sentence—this is the building block foundation. Even very young children can learn to write simple sentences with proper end punctuation and proofreading. 

Then build on this one sentence to create strong paragraphs with one central main idea. Now add description. Keep adding building blocks and practice.  If writing is viewed as a continual process, it will become a lifelong learning skill and absolute perfection will not be the immediate goal. One can never be done learning to write. There is always more to understand, more to try, and more to learn. 

Furthermore, students who view writing as a process are more likely to celebrate each small success and build confidence along the way. As confidence in writing grows, so too will the desire to continue trying new skills and developing proficiency. 

In a perfect world, writing education would begin in earnest in preschool and kindergarten as children are just learning to write their letters and words.  Young children can be asked to label drawings with a single sentence adding description and punctuation along the way. 

But it is not a perfect world and more often than not, writing instruction doesn’t begin until late elementary grades or even middle school when students are suddenly asked to write an essay about their summer vacation. Faced with a blank page and no previous teaching, overwhelming fear and inadequacy set in. 

Is it too late?


Just remember: writing is a process!

Back it up.  

Start at the beginning and assume nothing. 

Eliminate the fear of a blank page by asking for just one sentence. Then move on to a single paragraph. Don’t move on from the paragraph until it has reached proficiency. Work on proofreading, punctuation, focus, description, and coherency within a single paragraph before jumping into a longer essay even if it

takes lots of practice. There is no rush. 

And above all, remember the power of praise. Find something to praise in each paragraph because success really is its own reward. A student who sees a glimmer of hope will continue to strive for greatness. And more often than not, he WILL achieve it!    

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