Backwards Journaling

 

Creativity in action

Today is Backwards Journaling Day. It’s a day I made up to help inspire ‘A’ as she learns to write. The goal: write as much as she can with as many misspelled words as possible. Extra points for each misspelled word.

Seems funny? This I know: some of us are born writers and some of us are not. Some need to write in order to think; others need to think in order to write.

I’m a mother, so of course I want everything for my children and then some. At the same time, my list of Things I Want For My Children is short:

Be creative. Everyday.

Think critically and question everything.

Be grateful for everything, all the time.

Never stop wondering, looking & searching.

Given this list, it’s no surprise that as I work with them on their education, I want them to love to read and write. I love to read and write. I look at both of them and it’s clear that ‘H’ is a writer – she needs to write in order to think. ‘A’ is not like that. She freezes up everytime she starts to write.

“I don’t know what to write about!”

“I don’t have anything else to say about it.”

“I want to make sure I spell all the words right, and since I don’t know how to spell every word, I can’t do it.”

That last one is like a dagger through my heart. Not only did she not get the memo about inventive language that children use in the early grades; what I hear is, “If I put a thought down on paper that might be seen as failure by someone else, I will feel defeated.” Being a writer means trusting that what happens between your head, heart, hand, the pen and the paper is inherently right.

Today she worked on her backwards stories. They were longer and wordier than her previous journal entries, but not by much. The exercise was still met with resistance and the above-mentioned complaints. Now I move to Plan B, which is still unformulated, but includes things such as a lot of prompts by me (the first words of each sentence, for instance); letter writing to a dear friend; writing out explicit, descriptive directions; daydreaming out loud; drawing a picture and writing a description of the scene… and who knows what else? How on earth do you encourage a child to let go and trust the world?

 

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