Friday, August 29, 2014

Creative Freewriting Adventure: a FUN journey into writing

In my English Comp class in college, our instructor had us begin each class with a simple writing exercise. Once the roll was called and we had settled into our desks, she would write a topic or phrase on the chalkboard, set the timer, and have us start writing.  We could write about anything that came to mind and were instructed not to stop writing until the timer dinged.  There was no penalty for misspelled words, poor punctuation, or crazy sentences.  The whole process was designed to get our creative juices flowing and helped us to learn how to get our ideas on paper.

It was a fun and freeing way of writing.  When I didn't have to focus on grammar and punctuation, I found that it was easy to share the thoughts in my head.  The prompts she gave us were really just a starting place and I often journeyed far away from where I started as I loosened up and allowed my ideas to run free.  It was a liberating feeling to write without abandon.

Journey into FUN

Fast forward almost 30 years and you'll find a homeschooling mom searching for something to help her children fall in love with writing words and sharing ideas.  That's when the MOST PERFECT resource fell into my lap.  Stacy Farrell (of Philosophy Adventure fame) has written Creative Freewriting Adventure:  a journey into freewriting (CFA) and it is pure joy.  This 52-page book helps your student "imagine ~ capture ~ and share" the fun that is writing.  Even better than my college writing class, CFA is beautifully written and offers step-by-step instructions for improving writing skills over ten assignments that allow students the opportunity to step inside stories and interact with the written word on a personal level.  Through  creative and engaging prompts, students are given permission to write what they see, hear, feel, smell, and taste without worrying.

The only way I know how to explain how wonderful this curriculum is is to simply start at the beginning. After a supremely hectic summer, we've taken a little bit of time to breathe.  I decided to slowly ease the Princess (8th grade) and the Eagle Scout (10th grade) back in to school mode.  I asked the princess to come in first and told her I had something for her to try.  She knew I wanted to really focus on writing skillls this year and she was NOT excited.  Actually she said, "This is dumb.  It's going to be stupid.  I don't want to do it."   And generally she just grumbled and complained.  But I didn't let that phase me at all.

She read the first lesson that I picked for her.  Once she'd read it and read over the assignment, it was time to begin.  She's a "paper and pen" girl, so she collected her notebook and sharpened her pencil.  We set the timer on the stove for 15 minutes and I told her to begin writing.

Writing doesn't come easily for everyone and the Princess was still insisting that she had nothing to write. She read through the assignment once again and pondered the questions on Background, Dialogue, and Incorporating Your Senses into your writing.  She thought for a long time before she could begin and told me that she just knew "something wasn't going to be right or something would be spelled wrong."   She fretted that it would just not be good.

With this, I realized I had failed my daughter.  I had not made writing fun and I had put too much pressure on getting everything correct.  I determined to right that wrong and I explained how free writing actually works and suggested that she began by just writing.

We set the timer once again and she finally started.  It was a slow start but soon there was a smile creeping across her face. She asked me some questions on how to spell a few words and the pencil began moving faster and faster across the page.  At the end of her 15 minutes, she kept writing.  

And writing . . .

And writing.   

She really didn't want to stop.  She explained to me that she HAD TO finish her thoughts.  Of course, I loved this but my very favorite thing was that when she had completed her first freewriting assignment, she asked if we would continue working with this curriculum.  I told her we would and she was thrilled.  It seems she has details to add to her story and wants to name the horse and title the assignment.  For the first time ever, she can't wait for tomorrow's writing time.

She admitted that writing turned out to be pretty fun.  She even got a new notebook out for "all of the rest of the writings we're going to do."  On the way home from her orthodontist appointment this week, she asked if I wanted to “do some more creative writing today.”    She was quick to point out that Creative Freewriting Adventure should be a daily part of school and not just a weekly part.. I assured her that it could be whichever she preferred. J  Her response was  “good, because I don’t want to stop.  I have so much more to say.”

THIS, my friends, makes this momma’s heart smile . . . I would definitely call that a success.  Thanks, Creative Freewriting Adventure -- now it's the Eagle Scout's turn.

I thought for sure that it would be a little more difficult to get him to sit down and write for me.  Not a problem at all with CFA.  He prefers typing his assignments directly into the PDF file.  He's excited about writing which excites me, too.  What I really love about Creative Freewriting Adventure is the timer goes off and my children keep writing.  That's a WIN.

We truly LOVE Stacy Farrell's Creative Freewriting Adventure:  a journey into freewriting and are pretty sure you will, too.  It's really that good.  You can pre-order your copy today in either the digital edition ($18.95) or print edition ($21.95).  Make sure to order before 9/22/14 and use the code is cfa-ships-free for free shipping.  You'll be so thankful that you did.


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