Tag Archive for Teens

Teen Writer Success: Curtained Confidence

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While conducting a writing workshop for teens, I encountered a 14-year old boy who didn’t interact in discussions or make eye contact.  His jet black hair covered his face Emo-style leaving only piercings and tattoos visible.

teen writers 4After giving instruction followed by an exercise, I walked the room for individual questions.  The boy was silent, sitting like a statue with black-nailed hands in his lap.  A notebook was perched atop the desk opened to a blank page harboring a lonesome, loitering pen.

Kneeling next to him, I asked him about his writing experience.  His head upturned toward me, and I imagined he was peering through the thick locks that hung over his face like a sheepdog’s.

Quiet and well mannered, he peeped, “I like to write, but I’m a bad writer.”

“Do you ever write just for yourself?” I asked.

He shook his head.

I instructed him to change his thinking, so he could exercise his desire to write and become a good one.  “Write just for you right now.”

teen writer 5The mop of locks slowly swayed from side to side as he turned away.  I thought of how some teacher, some parent or sibling, even some friend – a saboteur of his creativity and expression – had not liked what he wrote for some reason, then put him down, teased him, maybe lowered his grade.  He believed this person was right and himself to be very, very wrong.  Unrepairable.

I picked up his pen, handed it to him, then tapped the paper and said, “Please, can you give it a try?”  He tilted his head down, and the screen of hair fell upon the page like a final curtain closing on a poorly reviewed production.

When I came around a few moments later, I asked how it was going.  Without saying a word, he handed me the notebook.  On it was scrawled, “I want to write more.”  He wasn’t ready to say he was a good writer, but with the saboteur hammering on the walls inside his mop-topped head, he’d made incredible progress.  With five words, he showed he was willing to face his fear and express his thoughts in writing.

“That’s great.  You’re moving forward.  Keep writing.”

With barely detectable fervor, his head bobbed and the curtain shimmied like a musician playing a slow jam.   His arm was moving across and down the page.  I wondered if he was drawing, but never got a chance to look inside the curtain until a magic moment when it lifted as his head came up to face me.  There on the page were words, row after row of words from a teen experiencing freedom.

I hoped he could see my encouraging smile.

Here’s another story about Teen Writer Success.

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Teen Writer Success: College Hopeful

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

The flustered Mom called me eager for help with her daughter Lily’s college application process.

teen writer success 2She mentioned Lily was an aspiring fashion designer who maintained good grades alongside strong extracurricular activities, but struggled with writing.

When we met, I was puzzled after reading the first of four essays. Her mom saw the bewilderment on my face and slunk out the door.

On the topic of a proud moment in school, the teen’s messy essay explained leaving art class and being alone in the hallway when she heard her name announced over the intercom.  She’d been chosen for the homecoming court.  Lily went on to write that she didn’t win, but she was proud of being thought of as pretty.

Looking up from the paper, I found Lily poised and smiling, no doubt like she had been on the football field during halftime.

I affirmed that, yes, she is a lovely young woman, but she wasn’t applying to modeling school.  More importantly, the essay had no interaction, no moment showing her character other than being flattered, much less something that exemplified her integrity in academic or artistic endeavors.  It didn’t illustrate her hard work or pride in her efforts.  The only attribute highlighted was simply looking good.

She argued with me, so I pulled out my best impersonation of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn to let her know the judges would look for a focused message and strong writing skills.  It was time to show herself in a garment of her accomplishments and goals.  “After the entrance committee reads this, do you want to be in for the big college career, or do you want to be out and go home from crafting a pretty, but shallow story?”

She wilted into her thoughts, reluctantly agreed, then bellowed, “But I don’t know what to write!”

“Come on! Tell me one proud moment now.”

“Ah, well, I dunno.  I guess winning Governor’s Honors in art and going to camp—“

“Great!” I shouted as I wrote it down.  “Another!”

writing and sketching“When I accepted my school’s art award and saw the look on Mom and Dad’s—“

“Excellent!   Again!”

“Um, working with Habitat for Humanity then going to the ceremony and being hugged by the single mother who—“

“Splendid!  You have three to choose from!”

“But which one?” she whined.

“Any of them!  What one begs to be written?”

The wheels raced in her head. “I guess the house where I had fun painting the interior after nailing on part of the roof, but I didn’t expect the new owner’s joy to make me cry.”

“Great!” I said, holding up my hand for a high-five before adding, “You can do this!”

Her mom popped in with a hesitant smile, “Going good?”

“Yes, Mom.” Lily genuinely smiled.

“We have a new topic and are underway on Essay 1.”

The mother smiled, and when Lily lowered her head to begin writing, Mom winked at me and mouthed “thank you!”

Looks won’t get anyone accepted into their top-tier college choices, but after writer’s coaching, schedule management skill work, and learning the importance of revision, Lily was in.  All of them.  She had a full court of great opportunities to choose from.  How beautiful.

Read other success stories about academic coaching for immediate needs, a teen needing confidence, another needing an attitude adjustment, and a real job seeker.
 
Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Teen Writer Success: Attitude Adjustment

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

“I hate writing,”  she proudly snarled as I finished reading her essay homework.  Before I could begin feedback, she beamed, “I love math, and I plan on studying computer science at Georgia Tech.”

I was taken by her confidence in opposing passions.  “So how are you doing in English class?”

“My only B’s.”

Her disgusted tone told me these grades soiled her perfect GPA.

“Do you think that’s because you really, really don’t like doing it?”

She shrugged her shoulders, pouted her lips and darted her eyes to the side, obviously long since finished with examining her grades.

teen.4“Do you think you will have to write at Tech?”

“Probably.”

“Will you despise it, too?” I asked directly.

She looked at me quizzically. “Yeah.”

“And in your career, will you have to write?”

She swallowed.  “I guess.”

“Will you loathe it?” I whispered and raised an eyebrow.

She realized I was joking, so I smiled and began pointing out all the good in her essay.  In addition to a strong grasp of structure and grammar, I illuminated clever phrases, intelligent ideas, and keen persuasive techniques.

Her face lifted, almost glowed.  “Really?”

“Really,” I nodded.  “Like it or not, you write well.  Well. . .well enough for a B, and that. . .” I paused to put down my pen before looking her square in the eye, “that is mainly because you are fighting the process.”

Her gaze was locked on mine as she wanted the answer.

“Maybe it’s time to stop hating it, and partner with your writing.”

She grinned slightly.

“Befriend your enemy,” I proclaimed as I put my pen away, our time ending.  “You’ll need that friend for college and scholarship apps, a resume, and then all the way on your way up the ladder.”

“When can you work with me about writing again?”

“When you shift your attitude.  Anything you begin from a sour position is bound to turn out poorly,” I said, pausing to take a breath.  “And isn’t it telling that even with all that negativity, you’ve still made B’s.”

“I’m ready to make an A.”

“Then get ready to enjoy your work.  Beginning with a positive outlook makes everything easier.”

After thanking me and parting, I knew writing would most likely never overcome math as her favorite subject, and that was okay.  At least her writing could benefit from some of her wonderful enthusiasm.

Here’s another story about Teen Writer Success.

Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.