In this series, I'm talking about the five ongoing practices you can apply to transform your struggling Restless Writer into a Confident, Fearless writer.
1. Acknowledge their Fear (all creatives experience this!)
2. Encourage and Support (their ideas and their reasons for writing)
3. Listen and be Invested (how and when to offer feedback)
4. Reality Check (list fears they’ve overcome in the past)
5. Validate their Identity (gifts that help them own the title of “writer”)
Today, is Method 3
3. Listen and Be Invested
OMG - your Restless Writer finally agreed to share their work with you! Remember they’re about to share their innermost thoughts, ideas and opinions through a story or poem or essay.
It’s a pretty vulnerable state.
So, as you listen to your young writer - really listen. Guys, I’m serious about this. Put the phone down, stop washing dishes and double tasking. (I’m speaking from experience, here.)
Your child needs your eyes on them, your ears on them. Your whole presence. Listening validates them as a person, validates their work, and validates your interest in their passions.
Before they start reading...
Ask them if there is anything you should be listening for, anything they feel might be confusing or clunky and then - and only then you can provide some gentle feedback - but be sure to offer feedback in the form of a question (like jeopardy) this way you’re allowing the writer to keep the control - you’re not coercing your opinions or suggestions or your voice into their original piece.
Some tips on providing concrete feedback:
This is not the time to “do their homework.” Remember not to infuse your ideas onto theirs, offer your words to replace theirs.
Your goal is to help keep the original feel and voice of the project their own.
Repeat back specific phrases. Repeat back what they said and tell them how it made you feel. In workshop - I write these down as my students read - to get it right.
“I really loved when you said… it made me think/feel… (you can add “is that what you were going for?”)
Writers want to elicit a reaction - an emotion from their writing. We want to feel that we made a connection - that our idea resonated with someone. Kind of like sharing an inside joke. That “you get me” connection.
A big confidence booster: lots of times you will notice some subtleties they’re not even aware they accomplished in their writing: “huh, I guess I did name her that to reflect her plight in the world. I guess that dead bird did symbolize the ending relationship, etc.”
Tomorrow, we'll go over method 4 of 5 in transforming your Restless Writer by giving them a Reality Check.
I'll talk about following the fear and finding their bravery!
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