Boy Writers Raising Boys Reluctant Writers Writing Writing Challenges

The Joy of Boy Writers: Helping the Reluctant Writer Part 2

Welcome back to this reluctant writer series ! To catch things up, I suggested in the last post that you drop writing in order to help your reluctant writer.

Boy hates writing + less writing = more writing.

That’s what they’re calling new math these days. As you can see, I’m amazing at it.

Seriously, people. You can’t heal a damaged writer by doing more damage through coercion and demands. But you will begin to heal a damaged writer by understanding their perspective. So how does a homeschool parent go about doing that?

Validated their experience and feelings around writing.

No more convincing your child why they should like writing or why it’s necessary and important. No more lectures about that. They can’t hear you anyway. Not right now. Give them space to feel what they feel about writing.

One thing I found incredibly helpful was taking my son’s narratives about writing. When the time is right (and brownies help make the time right), gently ask some questions that will probe below the surface of their writing life, the type of questions depending on the age of your child, of course. Some questions could look like this…

“It sounds like you really don’t like writing? Does it feel hard? What’s hard about it? When did it start feeling hard? What do you hate about it?

“What do you most remember about writing?” or “When you realize you need to write something, what do you tell yourself?

“If you could say ANYTHING in the world about writing, tell someone how you truly feel without getting into any trouble, what would you say about writing?” 

Have a sincere and honest conversation with your child about their writing life. Ask them if you can take notes. Recording their narrative will help give you insights and, if nothing else, tips for what to not do with them around writing.

Make it safe for boys to take writing risks with you

Is it safe for them to take writing risks in your homeschool? If they write about poop and farts? Violence? Or your teen son takes a political position that is 100% against your personal/family beliefs, say about abortion or gun rights? How do you handle that?

Let me tell you, when my son took up an opposite social position in a paper, I DID NOT HANDLE IT WELL. Yes, it was ALL CAPS BAD. I screwed up both as his writing coach and mom. And yet we still have a good relationship, and my son is still making strides with his writing.

Here’s what I did: I owned my mistake, apologized and made amends. I invested in learning to do better than before.

It’s not that we have to do this thing perfectly. Hell no. But we do need to be mindful of our reactions, admit when we screw up and course correct when we do.

Perhaps we can’t help but pass judgment on the topics our kids select for writing, but we can help how we act on that judgment. Learn to suspend your judgment and let boys show up as the person they are in this moment of time.* That’s the first step. The next is enjoying the person who shows up on the page. But if you’re struggling with their topic selection, start with suspending judgment. That’s fine! And it’s how we learn – one step at a time. 

Let’s sum up a few key ideas for creating a safe environment for boy writers.

  • Appreciate them as individuals. Their ideas are unique and valuable.
  • Invest in being their writing coach. Give yourself tools to help them. Read, learn, and keep trying until you find the mark.
  • Convey to your son that your help and support doesn’t end just because they’re now 10, or in middle school or high school. Let them know over and over that you will continue to be there as they grow into new skills, that your relationship with them will continue.

While this phase is taking place, find other ways to explore writing that doesn’t mean pencil to paper. Play word games. Read and examine other people’s writing instead of their own. Search for creative ways that involve language and writing but doesn’t require physical writing. The goal here is to reopen the door to the wonder of language.


*Who they are will change with time. But also don’t disregard writing that is truly disturbing, such as signs of depression, suicidal thoughts, or other serious issues.



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  • Slowly turning over the revision process to my high schoolers. I found a color-coded highlighter analysis of their body paragraphs helped them see the holes in their paper before I point it out. Training wheels, baby!
I explain my three highlighter revision process on my blog. Look under the essay guide series, then the revision post. Blog link in my profile.
  • Mystery Line Monday! I’m cutting it close today, posting late. But! Instead of getting a puppy in late October, I found out today we’re getting one this Saturday. Yay! And eek! Must finish preparing, fast!
So, the quote. It’s a bit dark and I would normally save it for our spooky theme in October. But I’m a bit distracted and busy, and I do live the way this phrase feels on the tongue. Hello, alliteration! You are one of my favorites! Plus we’re reading Hamlet right now, so reinforcing the lines.
  • Who is this person buying puppy supplies? It’s me. Same person who used to say she’d be fine living her entire life without owning a dog. 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • Snip & Pin editing still works wonders with teens! My 16 year old is writing a compare/contrast essay on Ponyo and The Little Mermaid movies. Arranging through snip & pin helped him come up with paragraph topics and if he should group his ideas in a point-by-point paragraph or block format.
Now we’re ready to rewatch the movies for more “evidence” and then expand his commentary. But first I need to restock movie treats. 🍿🍫🍬
  • Mystery Line Monday! I picked this one simply for cultural reference. #mysterylinemonday
  • Finally making my fall bingo card from the Homeschool Alliance intuitive planning session. It comes with a bingo card download, but I’m a washi tape nerd and feel somewhat guilty about ALL the washi tape I own. I now feel justified owning a 3 year supply of fall leaf tape. ☺️
Of course, I refuse to do pumpkin anything before official fall, if not October 1st. Yes, I’m anal like that. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I can’t get in the mood when it’s still 95 degrees and I’m sweating in shorts. Can’t rush Mother Nature! But I did go ahead and plan it last week while I was laid up in bed.
I appreciate the inspiration from the #homeschoolalliance. Such an easy way to have a touchpoint for the #bravewriterlifestyle! For September, we’re digging deeper into connecting and collaborating with our kids, expanding on a talk @juliebravewriter gave at the #bravelearner conference. Can’t wait to dig into the nuances, rewards, and challenges of collaboration!
#bravewriterteens #secularhomeschool #homeschoolhighschool
  • Mystery Line Monday! This one is such a giveaway. But I don’t care! It’s my favorite quote for birthdays, and today is my son’s 19th birthday! #mysterylinemonday
  • Wally and I got our alumni magazine in today. The same day Payton said he wanted to go to Auburn. The same teenager who two days ago still said he didn’t want to go to college. It took seeing just one fisheries research lab to help him cast a new vision for his life. War damn eagle!

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