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?" Read more »
By Doug Wilhelm
From about middle school on, when we start to grow self-conscious, people very often become scared to write. We may dream of writing, and long to express ourselves and see our words in print, but we can’t get past the fear.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a simple, two-stage approach to writing that can allow you, if you want to write, to produce stories, essays, poems, or anything else without getting all tangled up in feeling you can’t do this well enough.
I know that fear. I have it all the time! Writing is a risk, and it feels especially risky if you want to try something personal or different or creative. It’s not that the fear of taking this chance goes away. It’s that you learn how to get past it.
We write best when we approach it in two phases: First, producing a draft, and then revising it. (Teachers often break this down into more phases, including “prewriting,” but never mind about that for now.) We actually have two sides to our brain, the creative and the critical.
The creative mind is on the right side, and the critical, or analyzing, mind is on the left. Our creative mind is looser, more childlike, and wants to take chances on self-expression. Our left side – the analyzing, critical side – is more adultlike. It wants things clear, orderly and just right.
Most of us know the inner voice that says: “This isn’t coming out all perfect and brilliant. You’re a bad writer!” That’s where people get stuck. But this is only the critical mind getting in the way of writing’s first phase.
There is a way to set that voice aside for a while, so your looser, more inventive, risk-taking mind can give you a first draft.
How can you do this? Simple: Write your first draft fast. Read more »
Why grammar matters
By Liz Matthews & Amanda Anderson
Once you’ve revised your story, now you’re ready to edit. During the revision process, pay attention to the content – what you’ve written – and during editing, pay attention to the mechanics of the language — how you’ve written it. You don’t want the reader to be distracted by poor grammar – incorrect tenses, missing commas or misplaced modifiers. Read more »
By Geoffrey Gevalt
Here are a few ideas and tips to keep in mind while writing:
Noodle. What do you want to say? What do you want to write? What’s your opening line? Know those things before you begin; it’s like traveling with a road map.
Audience. You are not writing for the world; even on this blog. Pick one person you trust and love and respect. Imagine her; or him. Imagine that you are writing to that person, talking to that person. Forget about everyone else. Read more »
Excerpted and edited from a 2006 YWP article
By Gail Gauthier
- Turn a blank notebook into your writing workbook. Use the space for ideas, observations, and writing attempts.
- Fill the pages with words, pictures, lists, outlines...anything you want!
- If something that happens during the day gets your attention, jot it down. Great story ideas could come from anywhere.
Excerpted and edited from a 2004 YWP article
By Kim Gannon
English Lanuage Arts teacher
North Country Union Junior High School, Derby
- Give encouraging feedback.
- Point out the strengths of the piece.
- Is the writing clear? Ask the author about any confusing parts.
- Focus on content and information; did the piece fulfill your expectations and the author's purpose?
- Everybody needs feedback, so don't be afraid to ask for advice or give feedback to another writer.
"Click here for quotes and revision techniques of famous authors
The Art of Revision
How to make your work better
By Geoffrey Gevalt
Editor, Young Writers Project
REVISION is the act of looking again. It is the act of stepping back, stepping outside yourself and seeing more clearly what you have written, where it succeeds and where it needs to be strengthened. It is the act of discovery and observation: Does it say or do what I intended? Revision is the process of understanding – and achieving – what you intended – with some surprise along the way. Read more »
Excerpted and edited from a YWP article
- As a reader, think about what you like to read.
- Write about a subject you know really well.
- Write using a style or genre that you enjoy reading.
By Philip Baruth
There’s more to J.D. Salinger than “The Catcher in the Rye.” Lots more. Some of Salinger’s best books involve a fictional family of child geniuses — the Glass family. Raised by vaudeville performers, the Glass children appear regularly on a cutesy radio quiz show called “It’s a Wise Child” — but in private, at home, these children wrestle with the deepest questions known to man, spiritual questions, questions about human nature and the role of art. Read more »