The Critical Think Before the Ink-Rehearsal

Writing ideas swirl round in my head. I live with them for days and sometimes weeks before they emerge on the page. I frequently wake up thinking about the possible shape of my writing for that day. Most days I wake thinking about my writing for that day. Later in the morning over a welcome cappuccino, I might talk about it, do some associated reading and begin scratching out preliminary ideas. I willingly embrace the swirling and mingling, happening in my head. Further sorting out takes place. -All this is part of the rehearsal for the writing to follow.

I understand rehearsal is critical to my writing. I embrace it as an integral part of writing. It assists me in clarifying my ideas; to find my direction. 

Playing with words and ideas in one's head is such an important part of the writing process. Think of it like a tumble drier with thoughts and ideas rolling around and around until they are ready to be taken out and spread across the page. They emerge warm and ready to go.

Mind y…

Critical Considerations For Writing Teachers

The childhood of my youth appears to have gone the way of tape recorders, cassette players, CD's and the like. At the very least such items are on an endangered list. When sharing childhood experiences with today’s generation of students, I realize that our respective childhood experiences are world's apart.

My generation grew up in small houses with big backyards. The focus of our daily existence was the world outdoors. We had extraordinary freedom to explore our immediate world. The children I now work with, (and I’m talking in general terms here) live in bigger houses, with small backyards and the focus of their lives is frequently indoors. The growth of digital technology in its myriad forms calls after them like a siren. It urges them to remain under cover. X box, computer games, and a multitude of screens win out over an outdoor lifestyle. The digital revolution has swept over our lives like a metaphorical tsunami.

Freedom appears to have diminished. It now extends to the…

Writing Is A Matter of CHOICE

Nothing influences a child’s attitude to writing more than the choice of topic. If the child is given control over topic choice and if the teacher displays genuine interest in that choice, then there’s usually no limit to the effort the young writer will make. Young writers who are given this power soon develop confidence in choosing appropriate topics for their writing. They are engaged in thinking and preparing for the writing that will later spill onto the page.

Occasionally I hear teachers lament,
‘They’re (meaning inexperienced writers) not good at choosing something to write about.' The logical response is, ‘What can you do to assist them to improve this aspect of their writing processes?'

Actively teaching the inexperienced writer to make good choices, showing them how to identify a suitable focus for their writing, and harvesting ideas are excellent places to begin. 

Topic choice is an inexact science. It takes time and practice to better understand what matters constitut…

Fostering The Growth of Writing Stamina Among Student Writers

I vividly recall Georgia, a young writer, making a gem of a comment during a writing workshop session some time back. A comment that made my heart sing.

I had asked students for feedback concerning the writing they had just concluded, and Georgia offered the comment, ‘The more I wrote, the more I remembered.’ Not wishing to conceal my joy, I rushed to the whiteboard and wrote these special words in large letters; identifying Georgia as the person being quoted. Georgia’s words were a powerful reminder that given the right conditions the developing writer’s ideas take flight!

Our little writing community had been focusing on developing greater writing stamina, going deeper into our writing if you like. In consultation with the teacher we had identified a lack of stamina in student writing and discussed the need for them to generate a greater volume of text and to do this we had to improve their ‘writing muscles, in the same way we had developed their reading muscles and stamina. It was im…

Your Time Starts Now- A Writing Interview


The Real Value of Rereading Writing ALOUD!

The late Australian writer, Morris Lurie taught me how important it was to read my writing aloud. It was something he practiced and he shared this good advice most willingly. For many years I have been passing on to young writers I meet this same sage advice. 

Another renowned writer, Truman Capote said, ‘To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.’

This is why we must hear our words. We must ensure the music of our words is suitably melodic.

Colum McCann in his wonderful book, ‘Letters to a Young Writer,’ suggests we should have a conversation with what we write. I totally agree. 

As writers, we need to hear the sound our writing makes. We need to hear the repetition, the alliteration, the assonance and the onomatopoeia –all the wonderful notes. We must listen for the rise and fall.

When you read your words aloud, you are able to hear them as a reader hears them. You get to hear the intent of the words. You will then appreciate where it wor…

The Journey from Notebook Entries to Writing Projects

I recently had a most engaging Skype discussion with Northern Territory educators from Girraween and Howard Springs Primary Schools about the ways we can support young writers move from collecting writer’s notebook entries to identifying their own writing projects. The question arose- How do we best facilitate lifting the writing out and up in order for it to be shared with a broader audience?

Helping the inexperienced writer avoid becoming trapped in a whirlpool of copious notebook entries (that never grow and develop into something more fully developed) remains a critical consideration, for those of us responsible for teaching writing.
The writer’s notebook is a tool for writing. It is not intended for the entries to become ensnared; trapped in a word prison. The notebook contains many beginnings and not all of them are destined to be launched beyond the notebook pages, but their presence affords the writer options. The skill lies in identifying and lifting out that piece, or pieces,…

Regular Practice Is Essential For Growing Student Writers

It is most important for students to understand there is a real purpose to the writing we all do. To understand that through writing they can gain a greater understanding of themselves and the world in which they live is paramount. Through writing they can communicate with a specific audience across time and space.It is through writing they can find a voice for their thoughts and ideas. It is important for them to know their writing efforts are valued.

Young writers therefore need adequate time and space to develop. Available research data shows when children are provided with opportunities to write every day they begin to compose even when they are not actually writing. In other words they begin to think about their writing beyond the confines of the classroom. This is where rehearsal for writing begins to impact the thinking of the emerging writer.

As a teacher, I have always gained immense satisfaction from hearing students, who upon entering the classroom first thing in the morning …