Question: How would you respond to the following statement from students?
Anne Mazer: “I often meet kids who are frustrated with writing. They tell me that they hate writing, or that they have no ideas or really “bad” ones. They say they hate revision, that they can’t think up characters, or that they ever finish their stories. They stare at blank pieces of paper in frustration, unable to write a single word. Even the kids who love to write are often nervous about how to approach their stories. They’re scared of doing it wrong.”
Anne Mazer’s response: “When young people read the finished version of a book they admire, they often see the writer as all-knowing, confident, masterly in her storytelling skills. It’s intimidating, to say the least, and terribly discouraging if you want to write your own stories. But that polished book is a layer cake of mistakes! If only the reader could see the mistakes invisibly swarming beneath the pages, it would hearten all aspiring writers. Working on a book, I make so many mistakes that I lose track of them. Eventually, I stumble onto what I want to say, in the way that I want to say it.” P. 381.
Comment: I think that response is great encouragement to discouraged writers. I think I would put that quote on my classroom wall. Here are some other of Mazer’s comments: RayS.
“Fear of not writing ‘correctly’ is a recipe for instant writer’s block.”
“Writing rules are not the Ten Commandments. Some are helpful; others are not. Any writing guideline might help a dozen young writers and turn off another two dozen.” P. 381.
“Many writers work differently. They may outline, make story maps, write histories of their characters, or interview them. Some writers don’t feel that they are writing until they’ve got a couple of drafts under their belt. And other writers—like me—start polishing and rewriting from the first word on. All these techniques are valid and important, but each writer must discover which ones work for him or her.” P. 382.
Comment: A healthy attitude toward the writing process. RayS.
Title: “Spilling Ink: Writing in the Play Zone.” Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. Language Arts (May 2011), 381-385.