Last year I told my daughter that I would help her with her assignment on WWI. She had submitted assignments throughout the year and not a single one of them had been returned. She had no idea whether her work was good or bad. (Yes, that’s a whole soapbox post of its own!)
To help boost her confidence I told her I’d read over her work and make some suggestions.
As it turned out, I think she needed to be reading over MY work! I was really surprised at the quality of her writing.
She has a talent for writing, which is always a help, but one of the things that struck me was her attitude. She wrote naturally and she told it as she saw it. She gave her opinion, offered her reasons and that was it. It was a clean and straight forward essay that didn’t need to justify itself. She was asked for her opinion and she gave it.
Maybe at 15 she hasn’t picked up all those limitations and restrictions that we allow to weigh us down as adults. She doesn’t let anything throw her off course.
If she was making a chocolate milk she would add milk and chocolate. She wouldn’t worry about adding sugar in case it wasn’t sweet enough: she wouldn’t worry about adding salt in case it was too sweet. She wouldn’t worry about whether or not to add cream. She’d just go right ahead and make it in its purest form. That’s how she approaches her writing.
So many of us can’t write ‘purely’ any more. We worry about what someone will think of this paragraph, so we add that one to counter it. We worry that someone unfamiliar with the topic will read it so we add extra information which muddies the main message. We add things just in case. Our chocolate milk doesn’t taste of anything definite.
My 15 year old has a clear vision of the purpose of her writing and she focuses solely on that. We could learn a lot from her. Know what you want to say, maintain your focus and don’t dilute your writing with uneccessary extras.
As for her assignment – we never saw it again. Yep, that’s right. Another one that disappeared into thin air.
I like to think that her work was so good that it blew the teacher away. Sadly, it didn’t blow him far enough! He’s back at the school again.