1. THE IDEA:
—Ideas for writing can come from innumerable sources; any observation or experience can serve as a basis for a piece. Writers are keen observers of the world ‘outside’ and within.
—Making a list of sources with your group gives a fountainhead of ideas, and can help students get past the “what am I going to write about?” stage. A few examples for a list: places, newspaper articles, people seen in a crowd, friends, feelings.
—Keeping an idea notebook and/or personal list of interesting bits and pieces can serve as jumping-off points for involved writing.
—Allow interesting ideas to simmer before choosing which one(s) to set sail with.
— Along with determining a central idea, the writer decides what format will be used: poem, picture book, film script, etc.
— Research may be done during all phases of the writing process. Information gathered before an outline or summary is made will help determine what needs to be covered in the plan; while planning and writing the need for more research often becomes evident. Explore with students what constitutes research: interviews, observation; as well as written sources.
— Planning may take place through preparation of written outlines; oral and/or written summaries can be equally effective in establishing where a writer is going.
— Direction, knowing the goal of a non-fiction piece or the shape/plot of a fiction piece is helpful. But as writers incorporate innovations and acknowledge the benefits revision can bring, the initial plan is primarily a platform for the unfolding of the piece.
— The writer is building a world which will hopefully be both enticing to enter and convincing.
— Drafting is an exploration in which the writer proceeds with openness to surprise meetings, embracing new friends, and finding ways through rough terrain if the trail runs out momentarily. The writer allows the draft to develop before going on to editing/revising.
— During drafting, the writer may find areas which demand more thought, note-taking, discussion, or research before writing can continue. Questions to the writer at an impasse, such as: “Where might so-and-so go next?”, “What are some of the different possibilities of what could happen here?”, “What is so-and-so like? What would they do here?”, can help ‘unstick’ writers.
— In bringing writing to life excitement with the words, as well as continuity, is important. Enjoyment of words and the dances each can do gives pleasures in writing.
— Editing, or revision, should be approached as an ally that can help make the writing better. When a writer gains new perspectives on a piece there are opportunities for new solutions and clarity. Consideration is given both to content and mechanics, so that the writing comes forth in the best possible light.
— Writers must develop abilities to self-edit, to look at a draft for improvements that can be made. One of the best ways for writers to develop these abilities is to work with fellow editors in co-operative peer groups. In effective groups, all can learn to help each other improve his/her own writing by asking questions and giving feedback to each writer.
— Going from a draft to revision and back to draft again often takes place more than once. There can be as many drafts and editing phases as needed. Writers learn to see editing as growth in the writing process.
— Finished works can be published in any form chosen. Books in single or multiple copies, magazines, newsletters, letters, posters, bulletin boards, movies, television shows, plays, songs, are just a few of the forms published writing can take.
— Celebrations of writing, such as a Young Authors festival, also build the writing environment, are good forums for writing activity, and can be used to develop skills.
— Published works can be shared with friends, family, and classmates, spreading a circle of avid writers and readers. Good published writing builds writers’ confidence and pride, and helps create enthusiastic writers.