Today my oldest daughter Lauren spoke to my youngest daughter's English class about her work as a copywriter for an ad agency.
She graduated from BYU a year ago and has had lots of fun writing ads for brands like Jeep, Fairlife Milk, Deva Curl . . . it was a blast to have her in my classroom talking to my students. I knew she would be great, but I had no idea how much I would learn. I’ve been watching this daughter writer project after project her whole life. It was seriously awesome to hear take away’s of things that she has found important in her work as a copy writer.
Here are a few I pulled away from her presentation today that I think can be very helpful to the work that we are doing with young writers right now:
1. Teach children to revise.
Lauren talked about having to make revision after revision before her commercial scripts are accepted. Sometimes she will make over 40 drafts before it is a go. At first with young writers, we are so happy they have written ANYTHING on the the page, there is no way we would possibly want to push for a revision. But as they grow a little more confident, we need to begin to eliminate the “one and done” mentality. There is always another way to say it a little bit better. Start with ADDING to the draft. Could you add a color? Could you tell us the name of that car or street? Could you include what people said in that moment? In a way that KEEPS THEM WRITING, suggest that they refuse to be satisfied with the first draft. We need to grow writers who are always trying to make it better.
2. Teach children to collaborate with others
Lauren talked about bouncing ideas back and forth between her team members to find the best ideas. Collaboration is a real workplace skill that can be harnessed during the writing process. In my classroom, my students have writing partners and are required to share progress with them. As the year goes by, they begin to crave this collaboration and find that hearing other reader’s take on their piece is helpful. At home, don’t wait until the piece of writing is a final product. Suggest your writers share their work in progress with another family member or even read it via FaceTime with to Grandma to get feedback and ideas in the midst of a piece.
3. Teach children to be curious about the world.
Lauren talked about having to do lots of research on curly hair, hot dogs and Jeeps in order to write authentically about these things. It occurred to me as she was talking that any time we expose our children to new experiences, ideas, products, moments–we are increasing their writing topic list! Another thought along this vein is to encourage them to do research AS they are writing. If they are writing about a swim meet, for example, GO to a swim meet. Pay attention to the smell of chlorine, the metal benches, the whistles blowing, what parents are yelling from the stands. Writers have the fun opportunity to have a heightened awareness of things that most people take for granted because they need to re-create it on the page.
It was a huge Mom Pay-Day for me to see one of my MOST FAVORITE writing students of all time (a.k.a. my own daughter) talk about how she is using her writing to make a difference in the world. There are so many good lessons from her for the work still in front of me (and all of us) in our work with young writers. Write On!