Working on confidence
I go into classes pretty regularly and like to talk with students about whether they think they are any good at writing. I ask: "How many think you are good writers?" "How many think you are bad writers?" "So-so?"
I then get the class to tell me, while I write their answers up on the board, what makes a good writer. I tell them to blurt out their answers. Then we make a list of all the reasons why someone is a bad writer. When we're done, we dissect some of the answers to determine which are under their control and which result from an outside, uncontrollable force. Naturally we find that almost all the answers are within their control.
I have found a couple of themes that most often come through as to why students don't think they're very good writers:
- Confidence: They think others are better writers because it seemingly comes so easily for the other people; it takes them a long time; they don't like what they write at first; they think it SHOULD be easy. SOLUTION: Get them to understand how much work it takes, how ALL professional writers revise, revise, revise and how to focus on what they want to say or write BEFORE they write so it actually will come more easily.
- Content: They are bored by what they're writing about. SOLUTION: Get them to write about what interests THEM. They don't have anything to say. SOLUTION: Get them to research something they are interested in and then write about it.
Writing takes passion, focus and detail. Students need to be confident about their subject -- that they know it or understand it or are familiar with it and that they enjoy it or are intrigued with it.
-- Geoffrey Gevalt, YWP Editor