Writing with Training Wheels

Writing is like learning to ride a bike.  At first, the “rider” needs our full support to steady things.  After a while, all the rider needs is some gentle support as we keep our hand on the back of the seat, prepared and ready to help.  Once she gains more confidence and skill, we’re able to run alongside being the encourager, but still being there to bandage the skinned knee if she falls. 

Once in a while there’s a wobbly day, when things just don’t go as smoothly as before, so we step in again to support our rider.  But finally, the rider is independent, pedaling off while we look on, amazed at how much she has grown and changed.

Never once along the way, did we say that we are riding the bike, not even when we were the ones keeping that bike and its rider upright with our own strength.  The credit went to the rider, the one being brave enough to sit in the seat and try, even if only in tentative pedaling at first.  It all counts.

Be there for your writer.  Don’t worry if sometimes you’re supporting more and sometimes less.  The goal isn’t perfection on the first try, or even complete spelling and grammar accuracy.  The goal is to honor your writer’s courage to share what is going on inside his mind and heart and to support him as he gains the skills necessary for strong writing. 

Don’t be afraid to take the pencil (with permission, of course) and transcribe what your writer is saying.  The thoughts are hers but sometimes the complicated task of getting those thoughts from the brain into language to the hand and onto the paper can be downright overwhelming.   

Feel free to help your writer with word choice.  Toss around some synonyms for ‘went’ or ‘good’.  Help him choose the words that really show what he sees in his mind’s eye.  You may be surprised by his perspective.

Read to her (even if she is reading on her own).  Talk about what you’re reading, not just about plot and characters but about the way the author used metaphor to show the sun melting into the horizon.  You may learn something new together.

We’re all writers . . . . because we all have something to say.  It’s part of being human.  We’re all at different places in our growth as writers, especially our children.  Julie Bogart of Brave Writer describes the natural stages of writing in such a way that we can see the beauty of each stage.  If you’re curious as to how to support the writers in your family based on where they are in their writing development, click on the image below and find out for yourself just how amazing your developing writer really is!

Successfully learning (and teaching someone) to ride a bike depends on the relationship between the rider and the guider.  the same holds true for writing.  Too much support and the writer feels suffocated.  Not enough and he feels alone and unsure.  There’s no secret formula to say, give this much support here and this much there.  It ebbs and flows and it is in the relationship that you will know how much is needed.

So listen to your writer.  Chances are she will show you exactly what he needs.