Writing Process

If you’ve been reading my blog this month, then you probably already know that my third grade daughter, Wren, is taking part in her second Slice of Life Student Challenge. As we near the end of the month, I’ve been thinking about the writing routine that has settled over our house and how it has changed from last year. Last year, Wren and I did a lot of the challenge together. I helped her think of ideas and did a lot of her typing (and by default, editing). There were plenty of nights that we’d be heading to bed and one of us would remember her Slice of Life…and then there we would be, sitting in her bed late night writing.

This year, the routine has shifted completely. At the very beginning of the month, I think it was March 31, Wren sat down and made a list of ideas in her notebook. This list has fueled many of her slices this month. Usually, when I’m leaving for work, I remind Wren that she should get her writing done before school. Then, she happily grabs her Chromebook, sets up at the kitchen table, and gets to work.

Wren’s Slice of Life List of Ideas

When I get to work, I usually like to check in to see what she chose to write about that day. Sometimes, I get busy right away and don’t remember to check until later in the day. It always feels like a treat, reading her words and her perspective on memories that stand out in her life. Sometimes, I’m amazed by the moments she remembers with such clarity. Mostly, I’m just a proud mom.

In the last week, we’ve added to this writing routine. Every morning, I braid Wren’s hair before school. She usually meets me in the bathroom after getting dressed and I re-braid her hair. I’ve taken this quiet moment as a time to conference with Wren. Our afternoons are usually pretty busy and I never seem to get a chance to even tell Wren that I’ve read her writing. So, this quiet morning moment has turned into a time to talk. We share ideas. I tell her about my thoughts, the things I noticed her trying, and then I’ve been offering her a quick tip. Of course, I’ve been super careful about this, not wanting to be too teacher-ish, but more like a writing partner.

My middle daughter, Adi, actually noticed that Wren started most of her slices the same, with the day of the week and the weather. So, one morning, we talked about different ways you might start a piece. When I got to work that day, I was excited to see that Wren had taken my tip to heart and that day she experimented starting her piece with dialogue. You can read that piece here.

The next day, during our hair routine, I complimented Wren on her lead. After talking a bit more about her piece, I offered my next tip about meaning. I reminded her she should really think about why she is writing about each moment. Why did that moment matter in your life?

Again, when I got to work, I saw that she had listened to my tip and tried to weave in a bit of a life lesson. You can read that piece here.

Wren has really grown as a writer and I’ve been really happy to share this experience with her. Writing together connects us in a new way and I’ve really loved watching Wren grow as a writer. We’ve talked about what her writing routine will look like moving forward. Last year, once the April student challenge was over, Wren didn’t touch her blog again for the rest of the year. Right now, she’s really into it and thinks she can write every day for a year. I’ve also invited her to stick with writing on Tuesdays. Either way, I’ll be happy to share these moments together.

16 thoughts on “Writing Process

  1. This is such a special reflection! Seeing growth in students is so powerful and to reflect on how Wren has grown comparing last year’s challenge to this year’s is a special kind of powerful because she’s your daughter. It’s hard to hold back and not be too teacher-ish I find with my own children. You found a way to balance it beautifully. Thanks for sharing this reflection. Plus, Wren has so many amazing slices to tell about – what a great writer!


  2. I love the routines you’ve established. I love that hair braiding and conferring go hand in hand. I can just picture you having a writing conversation as you braid away. It feels so comforting. Are we creating these kinds of warm, caring routines with our writers in school?


  3. Your daughter, your writing partner. Now this is a special relationship. I also admire Adi, on the periphery, offering her own observations which propel the writer and the relationship. Watching Wren grow as a writer through your eyes (and hers) is a gift to all of us!


  4. Wow, this is amazing. Thank you for sharing how writing has affected your relationship with your daughter. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  5. Awesome slice about Wren and her beautiful growing posts! I loved the progression you shared and the tips she took to heart. That’s how we grow. I love that you are choosing to be a writing partner with her, and no wonder you are also a proud mom.


  6. How awesome- it must be really rewarding to share this special connection. Your quiet nudges are obviously taking hold and you can see the results already. I love the way you describe the evolutions and I am impressed by Wren’s tenacity and growth mindset.


  7. This is impressive growth for your writing daughter. And look how Adi jumped in to write too. It’s contagious. Your use of available time to confer and to offer writing tips is remarkable. I love reading about your routines. Thanks for sharing this one.


  8. I have long admired the way you weave writing into your children’s lives. I love how writing and braiding and talking all come together here – you are growing a writer for sure. And now I need to go read a few of her pieces. Go Wren!


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