Stop! You don’t have to write every day…
You don’t have to write every day to become a great writer. The old adage: “Write every day” doesn’t apply to your kids. Truth is, it doesn’t even apply to all adult professionals! Writing every day is one of the great writing myths. There is some value to journaling or setting up a daily routine that requires you to write, inspired or not. And plenty of writers trumpet this practice as a result. The value in the routine is that it helps writers (that is, people who are already proficient at handwriting or typing, who’ve been getting paid for their word counts, who want their vocation or hobby to be writing) get over the usual blocks that come with required creative output. But even adults sometimes need breaks, need time to muse or be still or to simply read for awhile rather than produce.
You’re working with kids. Your kids. Your kidlets who can’t remember how to make a cursive “r,” who still struggle with even spacing between words, who forget that the faint pink line on the right indicates a margin that they must respect by not running it over with letters. These are the writers for whom generating original writing can become the most blocking, anxiety-producing activity of the day—the difference between cheerfulness and tears.
The Brave Writer philosophy says instead:
Interact with writing every day.
That means you can read it, copy it, listen to it being read, or analyze the writing you read. Look at it for why it works: makes you laugh, hooks your attention, delights you, persuades you; look at it for how it’s structured, why it’s whatever length it is, what support is used for its points, the musicality of the language, and so on. You can read writing for the sheer joy of it. Inside your mind, little grooves of how good writing feels and sounds are established so that as you return to your original writing, you find yourself unconsciously imitating those sounds, rhythms and forms.
Give your kids and yourself a break. Read, read, read. Count it as part of your writing program. When you write, let it be from a place of overflow and energy. Freewriting once a week or working on a project per month is the way to keep original writing on the menu of things to do each week. But never let them take over. Interact with writing every day. That’s the Brave Writer mantra.
Thanks for the reminder. I can use it even the 4th time around! =)