Why writing is so difficult – Dear so and so

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Dear GG,

I didn’t really know what to do. I couldn’t fathom how to help you. You have written so eloquently in the past that I was shocked by your first effort at a book review. Simple one-liners with poor spelling – that’s not my girl, what’s happening here? I tried to suggest improvements. I was met with coldness, anger, even rudeness.

You’ve had these phases before, and you always come out of them and revert to the helpful, mature and funny girl we love. Sometimes we find the reason and help you out of them. Others we never know their origins, but they pass, we blame it on growth spurts or tiredness. But we have never had a problem with your schoolwork.

It was a blow, I’ll be honest, finding out on Parent’s Evening that you have exhibited this bad attitude at school. “It’s just her creative writing. It’s like she can’t be bothered.” Writer’s block? “Sometimes she just writes about poo.” Oh no! What the hell did you write? It’s brown. It stinks. Is there anything else?  For a girl with so many outlets in her life, even a girl with a 4 year old boy in the house, that is really scraping the barrel.

It is our fault – the parents. To Daddy, everything you do is ‘brilliant, amazing, so clever!’ And whilst previous members of my team at work might have considered me a despot, I have adopted the ‘praise sandwich’ with you, never wanting to dent your confidence too much, always wanting to talk  rather than stamp it out.

This time I tried helping you with your work, I tried cuddling your reasons out, and eventually I resorted to coercion – no more new books or library trips until you got it together and started writing less crap and more brilliance.

But I have seen the light. Like a good parent I have attended the Literacy workshops at school this week, where I have learned about how children decode language, and I understand what I never knew before – you went too fast. You called yourself a speed-reader and I exulted in your brilliance, but we paid a price for that vanity. I had no idea how to help you with your reading. But I do now. We are starting again.

"Writer's Block"

Next week we will write about how children learn to read, and subsequently write well. We will share the errors we have made, and how we are learning to rectify them. And then we will post that book review, a much improved version, and feel proud again.

Love, hugs, recriminations…… and full-blown support from,


24 thoughts on “Why writing is so difficult – Dear so and so”

  1. This is a really great post, unfortunately there is no parenting manualmso how are any of us to know? Glad you found sme help though and are able to pass this onto GG.

  2. Great post! Gifted artists often see the world in ways we mere mortals cannot comprehend; Picasso had his blue period, perhaps GG, with her writing, is having her brown period

  3. Thanks for sharing. I think people forget how tricky the whole reading/writing process is. I look forward to next week’s tips.

  4. It’s so lovely and refreshing to read this. As some one who has been the teacher in this situation more than once, and who has run the literacy sessions for parents who all sit flabbergasted at how complex literacy can be, it’s lovely to read about a parent who cares so much about their childs progress. Far to many think it is solely the schools job to educate children. And while schools do a great job, fantastic writing comes as a result of all sorts of things; the mechanics are taught in school, the rest comes at home.
    I’m positive GG will come through this phase. Kids can and do suffer writers block but lots of imaginative play and fantastic reading materials generally help them snap out of it. xx

    • Thank you Lucy. I am a little intimidated to post about what I have learned because I know there are a few teachers that visit me here. Do please point out where I get it wrong – although I am hoping that I have fully understood my lesson 😉

  5. Writing is so hard. I guess it’s easy to take it for granted but it can feel like a slog. Thes so much to remember and often it’s in timed conditions. It’s a lot of pressure. Doesn’t sound like you’ve done anything to feel bad about. I like the compliment sandwich idea. Definitely the best way to give negative feedback. I keep trying to tell that to he hubby who generally says 3 negative hings in a row.

    Parents are teachers too so don’t expect any teachers to criticise. I love to be able to read a parents perspective.

  6. A brilliant post. I will definately be back next weeks to get your tips so that i have a head start when i start school in the future. Thank you!!

  7. So well written. It’s hard enough for adults to write eloquently and to choose interesting topics, and we do come to expect so much from our children, especially when they are so chatty. I know I’ve frequently made the mistake of expecting too much from my girl because of this. It does sound though like this will be a blip with such great support from the school and from you – well done, I’ll be do interested to read the follow up. Best of luck! Xx

    • Thank you so much. Everyone has been lovely about it on here. I must say I have panicked a bit – she’s never let her temper spill over into school time.

  8. I thought that was beautifully and eloquently written with such love.

    My son is in reception and is learning to read and I have really stressed over what I need to do to be the most help to him. It’s far from easy and I know I’ve got things wrong but his teacher has been helpful in guiding me. I would be really interested in reading the follow up post as I don’t think there’s enough guidance.

  9. For me, it was finding all the dirty words in the dictionary and writing them into my stories, referring the teachers back to Webster if they had an issue with it. My mother did volunteer work at the school and it was an awkward time for everyone.

    Frankly I was bored and tired of my mother bragging to everyone who would listen about how smart and talented I was. I just wanted to do my own thing and not have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. Unfortunately, though I had a heart to heart with my mom and asked her to just stop, she never could bring herself to be shut up when other parents were discussing how gifted they thought their kids were. It led to a lot of difficulties for me, and to this day I have an unnatural NEED to make people think I’m better than I really am.

    It’s hard being a kid. And I imagine it is hard being the parent of a child at that age.

    Good luck hon. You’re doing wonderfully!

    • Oh, so praise and congratulations had the opposite of the desired effect? God it’s so hard to get it right! The Bug has been doing really well recently and had lots of praise and I was thinking that she is getting down on herself because she’s having a blip, and we need to praise her more! Oh heck, which is it – attention or ignore??????
      Thanks so much for your comment – I think it is the most helpful one I’ve ever had on here – food for thought!

      • I’m really glad it was helpful.

        Every kid is different, and for me, it was the attention which was fixated on me that was the problem. Like I said, I went to my mother and told her the issue, but she couldn’t or wouldn’t do her part to stop.

        As I used to hit myself as a kid and went on to much worse self-harm (that I still struggle with today), I think it all started back then. I didn’t know how to deal with my negative emotions (still don’t!) and would punish myself rather than talk about my feelings. It didn’t help that my mother, in an effort to try and keep me from feeling sad, told me that I was only allowed to be sad/mad/guilty, etc one day a week, “And today isn’t that day…” So I was always waiting for the time to come when I was “allowed” to be upset.

        I think the most important thing a parent can do is make sure they have an open dialogue with their kid without forcing them to talk if they don’t want to.

        I really hope it all works out for you. x

        • Oh Lord now that is what I am afraid of, that she might one day escalate it. I’m so sorry you have that issue – I’m afraid my next post is not going to be a good one for you to read, so probably best to stay away for a bit. But if you do come back I would love to know your thoughts on what could have stopped you going down that road, what might have nipped it in the bud for you…

  10. must be hard to know what to do for the best.

    i love the way you have tackled this subject through your post writing style and I wish you luck in getting it sorted xx


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