Hating Writing: The Hidden Side Effects
One of the hidden side effects of “not liking writing” is “not liking self.” We don’t talk about it much. We think that resistance to writing is a resistance to school or hard work. We tend to believe our kids are being disobedient or lazy.
To “hate” writing as a child usually means the young person has not yet made the connection that what is going on inside is worthy of the page! Heck, many adults have yet to make that connection! The pervasive critique of mechanics and raw thought makes many would-be writers withdraw from public scrutiny.
When we accept the idea that children “hate writing,” we unwittingly turn off the tap to joy in learning. Writing is the chief expression of self in academic life. Even higher math requires explanation and proofs in writing.
Children want to be seen as successful, bright, and capable. If they risk their private thoughts, ideas, and flights of imagination and are met with judgment, they decide that learning itself is not worth the effort. By high school, some stuck writers have checked out of traditional education all together.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
The writing life lives inside your young writers right now—no matter how poor their punctuation, spelling, handwriting, and grammar.
Kids need to know that the writer inside is alive and well—that the mechanics of writing are a necessary challenge to be mastered over time, but not a referendum on the child’s success as a learner or writer.
You can do this for your child every time you value the writing risk. Hold the writing in your palm tenderly, with a look of love. Yes, even the writing that says, “I hate writing” and “This is dumb.”
Underneath those objections is a quieter cry: “What if what I put on paper makes your face look worried or disappointed? What will I do then?”
Start early—value the writing risk, love the child’s self expression, get as much of it to paper as possible, hold it as a sacred crystal vase—sturdy, beautiful, fragile. See the light refracted through it.
Work on mechanics as “no big deal” and “we all get there eventually” and “you don’t have to be a good speller to be a GREAT writer.”
Children raised this way see learning as open to them, and education as satisfying.
This is the gift you can give your children if you protect them from hating writing.
You can do this!