When Your Son Is A Reluctant Writer

by Hal | September 23rd, 2013

Meme - Reluctant WriterCan you imagine your reluctant writer winning a statewide essay contest? It happens! It happened to one of ours, much to our (and his) amazement. We all had to learn a few things about writing first, though.

Handwriting and writing are not the same thing! Our son was convinced he couldn’t write because handwriting and spelling were such a battle for him. We had to explain (again and again) that we are professional writers, but we almost never write anything by hand. We told him about Winston Churchill who wrote enough volumes to fill a big bookshelf and dictated every bit of it while he paced around.

So, let them dictate! Isn’t that cheating? No! Read that last paragraph again. All those G.A. Henty novels were dictated, too. The art of communicating through the written word is about ideas  and words, not about handwriting or hieroglyphics, either.

Don’t count spelling. Agatha Christie is one of the best-selling novelists ever, but her editor said she was an atrocious speller and had horrible handwriting due to her dyslexia. Teach spelling when you are teaching spelling, but writing is hard work and we don’t need to make it any harder.

Find something they love for them to write about. Honestly, could you happily write a paragraph in response to those lame prompts in most textbooks? No one likes writing about things they care nothing about.  So, if he is interested in dinosaurs, let him write about dinosaurs!

Use gadgets. One of our sons had such a difficult time with handwriting, I had trouble getting a few sentences out of him even as he entered high school. Then his uncle passed his laptop down to him. He was easily able to learn to type and soon wrote 17,000 words on a novel in one month!

Give them a vision. Boys particularly really want to know why they have to learn something. Most people impact the people they know.  If you learn to speak in public, though, you influence folks you don’t personally know. If you take up the challenge of writing, you can influence generations not even born yet.  That’s worth a lot of work!

Hal and Melanie SugarLoaf Web (c)2009

Yours in the Battle,

Hal and Melanie


We  devote an entire session of our popular Boot Camp 9-12 to understanding why your son may suddenly be struggling, and what you can do about it. Our next series of “Boot Camp” webinars starts October 22 … CLICK HERE to find out more

  • Dawn Saint

    We had a slight turn-around this year – Dictation has helped some, and then he has the choice to do either a regular typing lesson or to type up what I had written as he dictated to me. I must admit, that sometimes during dictation I give ideas/choices for more colorful/precise words. Another thing that has helped is journaling. We both have a journal and we’ll write until he says he’s done – and I get to finish my sentence. We swap journal books, read what the other has written, and write a thoughtful response. We give the journal back to the owner and they read and respond again. Finally, we swap once more for a final read-only before we close them up. Usually we don’t even need prompts, just what happened or is going to happen. It’s a good opportunity to notice and make encouraging/edifying comments on paper that probably wouldn’t have come out of my mouth. He’s starting to pass some encouragement back to me too. ♫

  • Evan Hanson

    The number one predictor of a boy’s success in life is his reading ability in the fourth grade. Although I believe writing is a critical skill, reading is more important during his development educationally and in life. I have a blog about raising sons, http://www.wildhopelegacy.com, that is Christian based. In addition to dealing with issues related to raising a future man, I also write about how fathers need to be actively preparing their son’s for a Godly manhood.

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