What’s so scary about writing?

"What's so scary about writing?" in spooky font over a picture of creepy hands

1. Negative feedback

Starting off strong with the biggest fear—feedback. Writing is an intimate process, and many students worry that their ideas and skills aren’t up to par. Always start with positive feedback to ease their nerves, and then follow with neutral and constructive feedback. Modeling good feedback will pay off in the peer review process as well! Your students will learn how to gently point out mistakes for themselves and their peers.  

2. Irrelevant assignments

In a world of texting and tweeting, it's hard to show students the value of the classic five paragraph essay. There are a few simple tricks that make writing more relevant (and fun) for your students! 

  • Let them pick a topic they are passionate about or have a unique perspective on  
  • Cycle between digital and pen-and-paper writing 
  • Experiment between narrative, persuasive, descriptive, and expository writing  
  • Change the length of your assignments. Short form writing is just as important as long form! 
  • Give in-class journaling a shot 
  • Include reading comprehension to enhance vocabulary and expand your students' worldview

3. Independent Work

Writing is isolating! If your students are struggling with creating a thesis, encourage them to collaborate ideas with their peers.  

4. Inability to communicate clearly

Your students are nailing the brainstorm process and then stop dead once their pen hits the paper. What do you do? If they don't have the words to communicate their ideas, offer them: 

  • Vocabulary exercises. Challenge them to use a new word that expresses their complex ideas. 
  • Reading comprehension in lessons. Your students will discover creative writing and word choice strategies they hadn't considered! 

5. Not having a response

Free responses are scary for students who need structure. Walk students through the brainstorming phase and reassure them it's okay for things to have "no right answer". 

6. Failure

If a student thinks they will fail, they will quit before they begin. Offer them guidance by...

  • Giving positive and specific feedback 
  • Consider writing assignments that don't require feedback 
  • Modifying the assignment grading structure 

Writing is terrifying and teaching it isn't any easier. Your students appreciate your guidance. By addressing these fears, they will unlock their unique voice, show long term progress, and communicate their ideas clearly. 

In a matter of no time, your students will be scary-good at writing. You've got this!