The simple truth of the matter is that at some point, everyone has to write. Maybe it’s writing a paper or a dissertation. Maybe it’s a blog post. A letter. A grant proposal. A journal entry. A note for a roommate. Everyone has to write something at some point. Therefore, everyone has to know how to write.
It sounds simple enough. Put words together. Use correct punctuation. Share thoughts. At its very most basic level, that’s what writing is.
The truth of the matter though, is that writing is a lot more complicated than that. Sometimes there are a lot more rules.
So how does one teach writing?
The decision can be made to use mentor texts. These are texts that are in the style that is being taught that can be shared with students. They’re model texts. They show how one can write a poem or a personal narrative or a short story. They help to familiarize students with what they’ll be doing. They show different ways to set up the structure or use point of view or use figurative language. They can be a huge tool in a writer’s toolbox.
Break writing down into manageable chunks. Have students use planning sheets or create outlines. Have them put their piece of writing together piece by piece rather than all at once.
Make sure that students have checkpoints and deadlines, otherwise a piece of writing can be wildly out of control, and it might be too late to fix it. Have days where students and teachers can touch base. Have deadlines so that writing is making forward progress and isn’t stalling out.
Make writing accessible and something students can connect with. Writing in any form is about sharing stories. It’s about connecting with other people. Don’t make writing something that seems so academic students aren’t interested and can’t connect with it. Let students tell their stories. Set parameters for the form students should be writing in, but let them soar and tell their stories.
I don’t think there’s one right way to teach writing. Everyone uses different processes to write and be successful at writing. I think one of the most important things is giving students the space they need to find their voice.