By Amy Wallace
Novel in a Year, Intermediate Composition, English III, and Critiquing With Class Instructor
Mark Twain said, "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is ... the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." Writing well is more than finding the right word. Writing well involves the whole student. Whether your student loathes or loves writing, there are key strategies to helping students fully engage and move from writing fear to writing fun.
The first step toward joy in writing is one of the easiest. Read. Strong writers are avid readers. When students have a love of reading, they are better equipped to enjoy working with words to communicate in written form. Avid readers also have extensive vocabularies to draw from when working on a piece of writing. The key is choosing books that a student loves to read. This can awaken a vital component of writing- the heart. Once the heart and the mind are engaged, writing can move from a chore to an opportunity to express ideas with words.
Another key step to enjoy writing is to choose the topic wisely. Choose topics with descriptive details to discuss. When students can picture their writing subjects, they have all five senses and experiences to draw from to move that mental picture to a well written paper. Choose topics students are passionate about. Then writing becomes less a chore and more a chance to share about a favorite subject.
A final step to joyful writing is to spice up the nouns and verbs. Choosing strong, vivid nouns and verbs can change an acceptable paper into an engaging story. With each sentence ask: Can I picture this? For example, "The girl danced across the room, pretty dress and hair moving with her." can be changed to a vivid picture by altering a few nouns and verbs. "Evangeline pirouetted across the polished wood, gauzy dress and golden hair flowing behind her."
Maya Angelou once said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Words have the power to make people feel. When writers find books they love, choose topics wisely, and spice up nouns and verbs, they will not only enjoy the process of creation, they will also evoke in others feelings not soon forgotten. Words are a gift. What a writer does with them can change the world.
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