Becoming a Writer

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I’m an author. I love coming up with ideas to write about and I love bringing other ideas to life through written words. There was a time in my life that I didn’t think I could be a writer because I didn’t enjoy making things up. Writing fiction was not my thing. When I was in sixth grade I took creative writing as an elective and the teacher told me over and over again that my writing was wrong. My ideas weren’t good. I didn’t set the scene or perfect the plot or use the right voice. She crushed my writing spirit. But I kept going. I never shared anything I wrote because I assumed everyone would think it was terrible, like she did.

Eventually I started sharing my poetry. My friends liked it. And I actually paid to have my poetry published in anthologies stuffed with thousands of other authors – who also paid. I think you’ll find me on page 537, column 2, third row down. I kept writing.

Then something happened. I started college at 19 attending off and on at local community colleges. I avoided English 101 for a while. When I finally registered for it, I was excited (because I like to write), but I expected to get a poor grade and a lot of criticism. When I turned in that first writing assignment – an informational essay about computers and education – I shrugged it off immediately. I did my best. The day she handed the assignment back I was completely ready for the bad grade that was heading my way. But it never came. Instead, I was shocked to see an A+ with curly red comments about being well thought out and nicely structured. Huh. Maybe I’m not terrible.

Something else happened. I remembered a day in second grade. I came home from school and set up a spot on the floor in front of the TV with my markers and a pad of pastel-colored paper. I wrote my own story of the first Thanksgiving, complete with pictures of corn and Indians. And I liked it. I read it to everyone. I hung it up. Eventually I transferred it to my scrapbook. It’s still there. As I remembered this, I realized what my path was – I’m a nonfiction writer. That’s what I was meant to do. It doesn’t matter that I can’t make up stories about unicorns and furry trolls in faraway lands. That’s not necessary for my journey.

I did eventually branch out to making things up. Actually, my last book was creative nonfiction. It was my job to take the characters in the story through time to meet famous scientists who developed advances in electricity like Ben Franklin, Nikola Tesla, and Michael Faraday. It’s one of my favorite projects so far. I can’t wait for that one to be in print so I can put it on my bookshelf.

Over the last few months I’ve received two of my latest books in the mail, and I don’t think that is ever going to get boring. Opening a package to find a book that I wrote, and then watching my kids read it?! Whoa. So mind blowing. And I think back to that teacher who thought I was terrible and sat me down for a conference after class about how my writing just wasn’t very good. How many times her voice echoed in my head, discouraging and condescending. I kept trying. Secretly. But I kept trying.

Today, I get to be role model for my kids. I may not write the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but I wanted to be an author, and here I am with four books under my belt. I did it. So now when I tell them they can be whatever they want if they work hard for it, they know it’s true because I did it.

Do you have a writing journey? I’d love for you to share it with me!

Getting Creative: Writing Prompts for Kids

Writing Prompts

My son needs practice with his penmanship, and he typically finds long writing assignments frustrating. I’m not sure if his being left-handed has anything to do with it, but I usually give writing assignments in small increments so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed. I’ve also noticed that offering a drawing activity as a follow-up (or even as a lead-in) helps him ease into it.

I have created several writing prompts this year for him. The creative aspect is more enticing to him, as I’m sure it is to most kids – write your own story or write a book report? I was a different kind of child and would have chosen the book report but most of my peers would have selected story-writing every time.

Here are a few of the creative writing prompts I’ve made. Each writing page is followed by a page with space to draw a picture from the story, and each prompt has a keyword box with words that should be creatively included somewhere in the writing. Feel free to share your stories with us!

A Cowboy Story

A Superhero Story

An Undersea Adventure

Terms of use: All downloadable content on the bookworm homeschool site is copyright protected and may only be used for personal or classroom use. You may not host  my files on your own or other sites, alter or sell any of my files in any way, transmit or store any resources on any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system. To share, please provide a link to the blog post and not to the PDF. Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you!

Need more writing inspiration? Here are some great books to add to your collection:

Write Your Own Story Book   I Love Words

Write & Draw Your Own Comics   Illustrated Dictionary

Usborne Publishing Ltd. (UK) has no connection with these pages and does not sponsor or support their content.

Notebooking Pages

notebooking

So I’ve been working on creating notebooking pages so that I can give my son writing assignments that are short, but allow him to express what he’s learned about the topics we are covering. I can give only one page at a time, or I can pair it with one of the drawing pages. We’ll be completing these and filing them in a 3-ring binder as we progress through the year and ultimately, it will be a chronological notebook beginning with the Age of Exploration.

Here are the first two sets if you are interested in using them with your child:

The Age of Exploration Notebooking pages

The 13 Colonies Notebooking Pages

Age of exploration cover

If you use these, I’d love to see what your children are writing and drawing. Please feel free to share!

All downloadable content on the bookworm homeschool site is copyright protected and may only be used for personal or classroom use. You may not host  my files on your own or other sites, alter or sell any of my files in any way, transmit or store any resources on any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system. To share, please provide a link to the blog post and not to the PDF. Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you!

Learning Behind My Back

Sometimes it is easy to forget that kids are always learning. We don’t always have to spell it out for them or write it on a white board. We got these super cute story cubes for Christmas so we decided to use them for creative writing on Monday when we got back to work. Have you used these or something like them? We love them and would love more ideas like this!

story cubes

Anyway, my son finished his story and, as we were going over it together talking about apostrophes and spelling, I noticed his fine use of quotation marks. He learned this very briefly at the beginning of the year in one of our workbooks, but I haven’t really addressed it again yet. I told him how much I liked his use of quotation marks and this was his reply: “I noticed in my book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing that every time someone said something those marks were around what they said, so I figured that’s what I should do too.” He’s six, so I think it’s pretty cool. Have your kids shared learning moments like this with you? I’d love to hear some!

Man Who Hunts Woolly Mammoths