Brave Writer vs. the other programs

For those of you I met at the APACHE conference, welcome to Brave Writer’s blog! So good to have you. I enjoyed getting to know the many moms new to Brave Writer. One of the primary questions I answered all day both days had to do with what makes Brave Writer distinctive in the homeschool writing market. Seemed like it was time to talk about that here on the blog, again.

Our company name is “Brave Writer,” not “Brave Writing” and there’s a reason for that. We teach writers (people). We’re interested in the quirky process of dredging up words from inside and making them accessible to readers. While it’s important to also talk about form and style, these aren’t relevant as long as the writer is tied up in knots worried about what he or she has to say. Until a writer wants to express an idea or insight or thought or fact, no amount of instruction in the paragraph will make words-worth-reading come forth.

Many writing programs develop curricula focused on formats. They lay out a plan to tackle the descriptive paragraph, the narrative paragraph, the short story, and the business letter. Or they talk about stylistic concerns (how to use adverbs, sentence variety, complex sentences, mimicking other authors). While any writer worth her salt is interested in both of these (the structure of the genre for writing as well as the stylistic demands), until she is comfortable with written self-expression, she’ll find a strict focus on form oppressive and voice-robbing. Worse, she may come to adopt a “false voice” developed through imitation and “puzzle solving.” Focusing on formats too soon leads kids to see writing as a puzzle to solve (how do I fit my words into this set of restrictions?), not as an opportunity for self-expression, eventually whittled down and guided by a format’s organizational principles.

Writers need to be nurtured. They deserve the same kind of compassion, modeling, support and forgiveness we offer to our kids as they learn to talk. When they misspeak a word (mazazine instead of magazine), we run to the baby book to jot it down so we won’t forget Hilda’s cute way of expressing herself at 3 years of age. We know some day she’ll join the rest of us with her pedestrian use of “magazine.” Yet when Hilda at age 8 misspells “because” by writing “becuz,” we cringe. I’ve yet to meet a mother who has gleefully raced to the closet for the baby book to enter that delightful misspelling. We don’t share the same confidence that she will spell “because” correctly one day. Yet she will. And you should enter it in the baby book as an adorable example of her growth in spelling.

Brave Writer’s philosophy is that if you help a person get in touch with what he or she has to say, and if you provide the maximum freedom and space to do it in, all while slowly building the accurate mechanical skills to transcribe those thoughts, you will, without a doubt, cultivate a writer who can face a blank page, confident in the knowledge that what’s inside will make it to the page with clarity, accuracy and panache.

Anyone can google a writing format. That information is ubiquitous. Brave Writer also teaches formats in various classes (fiction, imitation of a classic writer, essay forms, literary analysis, descriptive paragraphs, etc.). Yet the teaching of formats is secondary to the primary goal: getting your kids in touch with the power and value of their own writing voices. Once they discover that what’s inside can be translated into entertaining, satisfying, valuable prose, their ability to learn formats and mechanics goes way up. They now see those aspects of writing as tools to convey what they want readers to know, rather than a puzzle to solve, hunting through the air for words to plug into the various slots.

Brave Writer is also specially designed for homeschooling, involved parents who want the joy and privilege of being the midwives as their children birth language in writing. We don’t just tell you “what to do” (write an informational paragraph – here’s what they look like), we help you understand your unique role in nurturing your child’s inner life and how that corresponds to writing. We support you in identifying your child’s unique writing voice and then helping that voice to emerge through the writing process (freewriting, drafting, revising and editing) – all without the weeping and gnashing of teeth so common to kitchen-table writing programs.

Please post questions! Comments work now. 🙂

7 Responses to “Brave Writer vs. the other programs”

  1. Cindy K. says:

    These are the reasons that I have switched from our “form and style” writing program to Brave Writer. You would be surprised at how few complaints I get now about writing! (Except for copywork! LOL!) They still don’t like copywork much, but I want them to practice seeing and writing GOOD works of literature and discuss fun aspects of it – onamatapoeia (sp?), alliteration, etc.

    Since trying to live a Brave Writer Lifestyle, we have all been more attentive to our reading as well – when we notice a really well-written description of a scene, a paragraph with fun words, things like that. We were reading “Crispin” recently (wonderful book!), and when Crispen enters the big city of Great Wexley, the chapter is SO POWERFUL at describing not just the sights, but the sounds and smells and the feeling of being squashed by all of the people as well! We all took a few minutes to discuss how we could really imagine being there – and, unfortunately, smelling the garbage being thrown out the windows! LOL! This is what language (reading AND writing) is all about!

    Thank you, Julie!

  2. Julie Bogart says:

    Wow – awesome. I totally remember that chapter and I’m so happy to hear that you take time to enjoy the writing. It’s so easy to get caught up in plot (we all do and that’s part of what makes reading wonderful). It’s also good to stop occasionally and admire the craftsmanship of a great paragraph or sentence. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see you’re back on the blogging trail. Sure wish there would be a conference in PA you would be invited to:)
    I’ve been spreading the word the last few weeks about Bravewriter as new homeschool moms ask me what I have found successful.
    Looking forward to One Thing — Shakespeare in May. Both my kids are always excited when I say there’s a Bravewriter class I’d like you to take.
    Thanks for your thoughts and continued vibes and energy.
    Kay in Pa

    Anna’s (age 10) latest sonnet to William Shakespeare

    William Shakespeare Vs. History

    Reading Shakespeare is like reading history.
    Elizabeth the First enjoyed the theatre.
    Some plays were funny some plays were gory,
    And Shakespeare wrote them in the tenth meter.

    William Shakespeare wrote many lengthy plays.
    He wrote some of his plays without a care.
    He wrote his plays in many very different ways,
    And some he made very pleasant and fair.

    He published his first play at eleven,
    Some of his plays are romance and trag’dy
    Some were so good they were meant for heaven,
    And some were very much his casualty.

    People now look up to him and grin,
    Yes, reading Shakespeare you are sure to win.

  4. Julie Bogart says:

    This is awesome. Thanks for sharing. I hope to keep the blogging up more faithfully now. Thanks for the endorsement. PA would be a perfect place for me to come. If you know the higher ups in your conference, pass my name along. 🙂 I’ve spoken at CHEO, CHEK and APACHE now.

  5. Cindy K. says:

    One of my sons just told me today that he likes Shaekspeare! Then he said, at least the story we have read so far! I read Macbeth to the boys from a book called “Tales from Shakespeare” by Tina Packer. He said that he liked how all of the people died at the end! LOL!

  6. Sandra says:

    In light of your comments about delightful misspellings I had to share my 8yo dd’s mishearing/mis..mis something! She had written a story about an imaginary creature who lived in a tree with three hollows. One was his bedroom and it had an “on sweep” (en suite). Various older siblings practically fell off their chairs laughing but I thought it was delightful and have written it down for posterity.

  7. Julie Bogart says:

    I love that!! That is truly adorable. “on sweep.” So cute.