Inspiring the Writer in Your Teen
- Friday, December 30, 2011
As homeschooling parents, we all want to know how to help our kids write better. Whether our high schoolers are planning to go to college or intending to enter the work force directly, we realize they will need to use their writing skills in almost any avenue they follow in life—which is why so many moms and dads are worried.
It’s true that writing is important. Words have the power to provoke a different way of thinking. They can spread radical new ideas, shape people’s perspectives, and change our lives as well as the world around us. Many of the great movements in history have been sparked or spurred on by the written word.
As the great Designer, God embedded a desire and affinity for verbal expression within our hearts and minds. What people read molds them into who they become. Newspaper columns can affect the way people understand political issues; magazine articles can enlighten us as to the underlying values of major companies; essays and books can challenge a city or a country to search out new solutions to old problems.
In fact, writing is a heavy responsibility as well as an exciting privilege. Words have the potential to create confusion as well as peace and knowledge; words can lead to negative outcomes as well as positive ones.
Most of us have received an encouraging note from a friend at just the right moment and felt our lagging spirits bolstered. Some of us have also felt the downward pull of an angry letter dragging us into frustration and despair. We may have read a convincing article that transformed the way we view nutrition, resulting in a new and healthy diet for our families, or perhaps we once read a book that lured us into the trap of focusing on ourselves too much, telling us we deserve more “me-time” in our lives.
An author who is committed to an unbiblical agenda can subtly but firmly plant seeds of doubt in our minds. Thankfully, another writer, passionate to proclaim God’s love and truth, can weed out those same doubts and confirm in our hearts the beauty and the rightness of God’s way.
The importance and the power of the written word are undeniable. However, too often we perceive writing as something other people do. Though we write in many different ways for many different reasons, we don’t usually think of ourselves as “real” writers. In turn, we don’t see our teens as writers either. Instead, we think of writing as merely something to be done, a school subject to be graded, a skill to be mastered.
Obviously, not everyone can be a great writer. Each person has different gifts. Yet we each must be confident enough to take up our pens and write when God gives us a message to speak. We need strong, Christian writers today—in fiction, in the academic realm, in the entertainment industry, in politics, in apologetics, in inspirational writing, and in every other area of the publishing world.
Whether our homeschooled youngsters are destined to be leaders or followers (and we do need both), they can all learn to be creative, capable writers. They must be able to express on paper what they are thinking and why they think the way they do. They can use their words to teach, debate, persuade, exhort, and motivate, and we must do our best to provide them with the tools for such writing.
All teens can be interesting, effective writers—they just need to believe it. All teens have something to say—they just need to discover what it is. All teens have a unique voice—they just need to be quiet long enough to hear it speak.
You know it when you have a natural writer on your hands. No one has to alert you to the fact. Natural writers are storytellers, and they tell their stories all the time. Some might start on the actual “writing” part early, composing lengthy, amusing stories, complete with detailed illustrations and realistic dialogue, when they can barely hold a pencil. Other natural writers won’t discover their bent until later in life—say, age 11. However, once they start, natural writers can’t be stopped.
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