External events. Why write when there are huge events happening in your world/home? After reading about and seeing the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, it didn’t seem like I had anything significant to write about. Every topic or moment seemed inappropriate and empty of meaning. I need to think about helping students see that just the act of writing will help them. It gives them a voice and a tool.
Internal Critic. How do you silence that voice that tells you that you cannot do it? Or how do you overcome the feeling that what you have to say is not that good, not that creative, not that worthy of being written down? What works to overcome these attacks? Writing: even if you don't feel like it. I need to make “Keep writing” as a mantra for my students.
Over-thinking. A cousin to criticism. Over-thinking paralyzes you. It makes you rule out topics, ideas and feelings that make you vulnerable. It says “This far, no further”. Over-thinking creates barriers that restrict your writing. It points out that you shouldn’t write about a topic because someone already did. I think it is only time and practice that will help create a feeling of confidence. What I can do for my students is to make sure they feel they are writing in a safe environment.
Validation. I always make sure to find and share with my students something good in their writing. The Challenge has underscored the value of how these external comments, someone else’s observations, make you feel visible as a writer. As young writers, this encouragement is needed to keep them going.