So having Biggie write a sentence-a-day journal has been going fine, but I’ve been looking for more ways to get him to write. I wish writing is like what reading is for him now: pleasurable, meaningful, easy, and constant.
So I’ve had two ideas. One is to write letters, to his cousins, to pen pals, to an “authentic audience.” I haven’t been able to implement that consistently yet—that’s still on the drawing board.
The other is to blog a bit. We have a shared blog—tomahto.wordpress.com—where I’ve mostly just been posting our daily journals, but last week I told Biggie that I was going to load a game onto the iPad for him to play… but only if he was going to write a review of it.
Of course, he agreed, but then, of course, we ended up having major fights over his drafts. It’s not easy being an early writer; writing is hard. It’s hard physically—you’re still developing the musculature and coordination to do it in your hand. It’s hard linguistically—you’re trying to express complex thoughts with a limited sense of syntax and vocabulary. It’s hard cognitively—you have to think about your overall idea and what you want to say next while tediously putting down your current sentence. It’s hard emotionally—writing is personal and expressive, and it’s frustrating to not have your work match your intended meaning.
I try to be sympathetic, but Biggie and I are both stubborn, arrogant, risk-averse, lazy,… and loud. JB sometimes makes herself scarce when our editorial staff meetings turn into shouting matches. I swear we both must grind our teeth at night; I know I do.
Finally, this week I stopped trying to give him reasons why he needs to take his audience into account. I said, “Listen. It’s going to boil down to this: I’m not going to publish this unless I think it’s good enough. This is not good enough, and I’ve given you some suggestions about how I think you can make it better. You can take it or leave it, but you’re not getting another game on the iPad to play until I think you have something that’s sufficient.” It felt kind of Tiger Mommy-ish, but it worked, at least this time.
Here’s the final review. I bet Biggie would be chuffed if you, kind reader, posted some encouraging comments.