Friday, January 11, 2008

Just another chapter in life

In the biography workshop I conduct with elementary students, we spend a little time talking about chapter titles.

I tell the kids that chapter titles generally do one of two things:
  • Give the reader a clue about the information in the chapter; or
  • Make the reader curious about what the chapter is about
I like to stress that sometimes you can think of a clever and interesting title and sometimes you can't. I always see a look of relief on some kids' faces when I say that - because some kids come up with super snappy titles, and some kids just come up with: Childhood or College or Work.

And that's okay - because:
  • They still have a chance to think of something else during revision
  • Even if they don't, they've accomplished one of the goals of chapter titles: to give the reader a clue about the information in the chapter
Here are a few of the chapter titles from a recent workshop:

Worker Bees and Funeral Fees
School Days, Pool Days
Wedding Bells and Stinky Diapers
Crack-a-lack-a-doodle

Pretty good, huh?

[Note: I work with kids a lot. I think it's important to remind them that they should never worry about writing something that isn't that great - or clever - or creative - or snappy - or lovely or perfect.

I like to remind them that the goal is to get your thoughts, ideas, or information onto the paper and not to worry one little bit if it's not super duper writing....because....it can be fixed later....

But....

YOU CAN'T FIX WHAT YOU HAVEN'T WRITTEN.


I have witnessed firsthand the stress that this lifts off of many children when they approach their writing....permission to be just-okay - or permission to even be a little crappy.

I've been a little crappy more than a time or two myself.

Raise your hand if you've never been a little crappy.]

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Barbara- That's great advice for the kids (and actually, all of us.)

I like to keep the thought "it's all practice" in mind, too. It helps to keep that nasty perfectionism at bay- and, as you said- gives you permission to be crappy. (And to go back and improve on what you've done later, since you're just practicing!)

Heather said...

You lifted some stress off of me, too, with that one. lol Thanks!