Writing assignment for moms

It’s your turn. You work hard to teach your children how to write. Sometimes, the easiest route to insight is to make the attempt yourself. Rather than assigning a topic to your kids or asking them to revise a piece in progress, let’s turn the tables. You go get a notebook and pencil. Use the following prompt to help you. Write for ten minutes straight.

As you write, I want you to be two people: the person who is actually doing the writing, thinking up the words, scribbling them down onto the page. I also want you to be the shadow self- the person who is behind the person writing, the person watching you write. Make observations. Pay attention to when it gets hard or how you overcame that moment of hesitancy. Mentally note your self-critique. Pay attention to stray thoughts like “This is a waste of time when I should be clearing up the lunch dishes.”

When you finish your writing assignment, take five minutes to jot down observations from your process. These might look like this:

  1. I was fine when I got going, but starting felt like walking in weighted boots through mud.
  2. When I got stuck, I gripped the pencil tighter and it hurt my hand.
  3. I got unstuck when I told myself I could write anything and no one would ever read it.
  4. I got mad at Julie for this stupid assignment and noticed that it slowed me down.
  5. I loved it when I broke through and used that one word I never use (name it).
  6. It was hard to keep writing when _______ came up and I had to look at it.

And so on.

The purpose of today’s assignment is to help you experience what it is to write, but also to notice what it is that blocks you or helps you. If you pay attention to your own process, you’ll be far more equipped to support and empathize with your children when they are struggling knee-deep in mud and muck themselves.

Here’s your prompt (taken from Poemcrazy, by Susan Goldsmith Woodridge):

Where do you need freedom in your life? What part of you is longing to be expressed that you’ve ignored (or shut off) for fear of failure, fear of success, no time, or because you are being overly responsible?

Ask that part of you to speak.

Have plenty of paper available. You may experience a flood as many people do.

2 Responses to “Writing assignment for moms”

  1. Terri says:

    I love this assignment. I haven’t tried it yet, but I often write with my children (10, 12 and 14yo) when we are doing timed writing. We all love to read aloud what we have written, and it helps them to see that I get stuck too, that I change my train of thought part way through, or that I can’t always capture what I intended. It also gives them a real example of what I hope they will achieve. My reluctant writer (14) now LOVES timed writing and has produced some beautiful pieces recently.

    Thank you for all your encouraging words!

  2. Mary Armstrong says:

    Hey, I did the assignment! Here’s my response to doing it:

    ” very easy to write, not sure who my audience was, would I turn this in to someone? Let go of that, and just kept writing for myself. Glad to see that the computer corrects my spelling so I could keep writing. Wanted to write more, but limited myself. Wasn’t sure what my answer would be, but just started writing and thinking. Now I will keep thinking about my wishes, and see what I can do about it!”

    My son is in BWI, so doing some writing helps me to understand what he is going through right now. Thanks.