What to do with a gifted writer?

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My youngest son is a writer. He has been a writer from the beginning. When he was three he would wander around not so much with a book in his hand, as the twins did, but with a pad of paper and a pencil. I have some of his earliest books that he wrote, cute little Mr. Men inspired books, that have a cover, a story, and illustrations. He was making these at four.

Since this time he has stayed with writing, never straying from it. It is his passion, and it is how he identifies himself. The youngest boy spends hours a day writing, and I try to give him the time and space for this. But I have struggled a little recently with trying to figure out how to cultivate this passion of his.

I have found that it is not as easy to find materials for an advanced writer as it would be for a student advanced in mathematics or the sciences. I think part of the reason for this is that there is not as much material out there especially for gifted writers and part of this is that it is hard for younger students to take advanced language art classes (where writing is usually lumped in) because the material may be inappropriate for younger students. The book choices in many of the high school classes I have looked at would be over a younger student’s head in many ways. The themes and meanings of these books are usually best understood when you are older and have more experience.

So what to do? How should I approach this boy and his passion? Up to now I have mostly been hands-off and let him lead the way. This has worked great, but I do feel he is at a point where he is ready to get to the next level in his writing, and I need to provide him with some resources to help him. I have spent some time these past few weeks looking at what was out there and have put together several resources for him this semester. I am hoping this will be enough for now.

1. Books and lectures about writing – I recently discovered that he enjoys listening to writers talk about writing. I just downloaded the audiobook of Writer to Writer by Gail Carson Levine and he loves it. Actually we have all been listening to it with him, and we are all enjoying it. It is full of some good advice and listening to another writer talk about the process has inspired him.

Because he is enjoying this book so much I decided to also get some lectures on writing from The Great Courses. These are obviously written for older writers, but I thought we would work our way through them slowly. He is at the same age as the twins were when they began enjoying many of these courses, so I am hoping he will too.

2. Online classes – I signed him up for a Brave Writer class last fall not really knowing what to expect. I wasn’t sure how the class (Just So Stories) would be set up, and I wasn’t sure that he would find the experience enjoyable and challenging. To my surprise he was very happy with it, and although it is a multi-age class for writers of all abilities, he found he fit in as well as everyone else. The boy ended the class writing a story in a genre he never would have if he hadn’t taken the class.

Because of this great experience I have signed him up for two writing classes this semester. One is with Bravewriter again and the other is through Gifted Homeschoolers Online. In this class the students will create a town through writing which is an interesting approach. The boy picked out this class himself, and he is very much looking forward to it.

3. Self-publishing – The boy has gotten to a point where he could benefit from getting his work out there. I am not sure how to approach this yet, but we have decided to start a writer’s blog for him where he can share not only some of his work but also his thoughts on writing. I am going to help him with this over the next few months and hopefully by March or April he will have a little blog of his own.

4. Reading biographical books about authors – I was pleasantly surprised last year by how much the boy delighted in reading several books I picked out about writers when they were young. The books most loved by him were Small Steps and The DreamerThis semester I am going to have him read some more. I haven’t compiled a booklist yet, as I am still researching. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have a list of books.

5. Audiobooks – He has a subscription to Audible, for he loves to listen to books almost as much as he loves to write them. Although he reads every day this was not enough for him. With an Audible subscription and with Overdrive from the library (a free service) he listens to several books a month. To me reading is tied into writing, so I am happy to support this love.

DIY Writing Prompts

I have posted several times about how much I love these writing prompts for teens. They are creative, intelligent, and interesting making them worth a teen’s time.

Autry loves writing prompts and lately she has been making her own. She has discovered that she enjoys making up writing prompts almost as much as she does responding to one. She uses her own pictures or drawings and comes up with the prompt and layout on her own.  Here are a few of hers:

photo 4 (14)

photo 5 (12)

photo 1 (30)

photo 3 (24)

photo 4 (13)

photo 2 (30)

Looking at all of her writing prompts made me realize that this could make for an interesting creative writing exercise. Instead of responding to prompts, the student would have to create their own for others. They would need to come up with the prompt, include artwork or a photo, and create the layout. Then they could present the prompt to others and have them respond. This is another activity to add to our creative writing exercises and one I would recommend for others.