Overcoming Writer’s Block

Posted June 22, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

It’s common to have students with writer’s block.  They sit and stare at the paper.  They fidget and talk to friends.  They complain they have no ideas.  Teachers use many strategies to get the “reluctant writer” to start writing.  This summer my teaching partner and I are using what we call the “Brain Pop” to get our students to loosen up and commit pencil to paper, even when they can’t think of anything to write!

Every morning we present them with an object or word or movement or question–anything to get the juices flowing.  Then we ding a bell that signals 5 minutes of quiet writing time.  They can list words, write a paragraph, make up a story, create a poem, as long as they keep writing the entire time.  We tell them that their brain is a muscle and that with exercise they will be able to improve their output.

In one week students have been impressed with their own progress. Several students wrote only a handful of words the first day, but by the end of the week, they were writing sentences, paragraphs, poems.

For inspiration, we write on the board a quotation by Jack London: “There’s only one way to make a beginning, and that is to begin.”

by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools