An 8th Grade Perspective on Writing:

Last week, I collaborated on a very loosely structured creative writing project with our 8th grade language teacher. She gave the students tons of options and support but not a lot of rules and structure, and it ended up being an exciting and enlightening experience for all of us. What I loved best about the project was that the only real way to do it wrong was to do nothing at all. 

Afterwards, she asked the students to tell us what they learned from the project, and I enjoyed their answers so much I decided to share a few with all of you. 

“J***** learned nothing, but he knows how to spell chartruse.”
Um…nope. He sure doesn’t, but it made me laugh all the same. 

“Descriptive writing is fun. I’m more creative than I thought.”
I love this realization. Writing definitely is fun, and I’m more creative than I thought too. It’s easy to get bogged down and forget that or to compare myself to others and always come up short. 

“You can use writing to let out your emotions.”

Sometimes you even discover emotions and thoughts you didn’t realize you were holding onto until they showed up on paper.

“Writing continuously while you have a cramp is very difficult and not recommended.”
That’s probably true, but I always hope the end result is worth the suffering. 😉 

“Writing is easier when you have time to think about it.” 
This is so true, and sometimes time is the most difficult resource to gather. In school, we have these irritating interruptions called class periods and bells that get in the way of our ability to take time to think, write, and create. As adults, we have jobs, children (or pet children), household tasks, social obligations, and more. It’s easy to get completely over-scheduled, and sometimes what doesn’t fit into the schedule is the time to think and daydream without feeling guilty. Daydreams are always where my novels start and typically how they grow, so if I wanted to invest in my writing future, shouldn’t I invest in more time to think without action or guilt?

“Using more details is an easy way to help a reader understand what’s going on.”
I need to take a note from this one. I often write way too many words without nearly enough detail. I get caught up in dialogue and have to cut it back in every manuscript. Also, I’m guilty of wanting to skip description while both reading and writing, but I love writers that make me want to live inside every detail of the world they’ve created. I shouldn’t shortchange my manuscript by not providing enough details for people to truly slip inside my worlds. 

“You can tell different things from different kinds of writing.”
Yes, you can. Perhaps this also means that if my writing is different from other people, it might be because I have different things to say. Maybe it’s not that I’m not as interesting or don’t have as much voice. Maybe it’s because I have a different voice. 

“Using bigger and more exciting words can give a story excitement and engage the reader.”
Wow! I love that an 8th grader even thinks about engaging a reader. I know they heard that from us, but it’s a good realization. If you don’t engage your reader, you probably don’t have a reader. 

“Writing is hard. To become a better writer, you have to take your time.”
Very true. I know my manuscripts needs to rest and breathe, and I need to rest and breathe before editing (or re-editing). However, I’m often impatient. I want each MS to be perfect now, not in a few months (granted they’re never perfect).  I want to take my time, but I also hate to feel like I’m standing still. That’s probably why I am so polyamorous in my projects and fail to be monogamous with my manuscripts. If I have to set something aside for a break, I still need and want to write or edit, so I always need another project to dig into during those breaks. I guess people could argue that’s not a break, but if I’m not always practicing, how am I supposed to improve? 

“Writing is time consuming. It can be difficult.”

“It’s much more difficult than I thought, but it’s also really fun.”
Yes, it is, and hallelujah! That’s exactly what I hoped they would learn.

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