The Gift of New Writing Approaches
It’s the holiday season, and soon we’ll usher in a whole new year. It’s a time filled with family and friends (hopefully), good food, and gift-giving. This year, as my present to you, I want to discuss the gift of trying new approaches with our writing (CCSS ELA Writing Standard 5).
This month’s book list contains an irresistible assortment of approaches to the same topic of Evolution. Skim the list, and you’ll find:
- A graphic novel – Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth by Jay Hosler, illustrated by Kevin and Zander Cannon
- A modernized primary source – Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” adapted by Rebecca Stefoff
- Evolution told through the lens of a single species (humans) – How to Build a Human by Pamela Turner, illustrated by John Gurche
- A hands-on book loaded with activities – Evolution: How Life Adapts to a Changing Environment with 25 Projects by Carla Mooney, illustrated by Alexis Cornell
- A biography – One Beetle Too Many: Candlewick Biographies: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwinby Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
- A narrative focused on a relationship (the Darwin’s marriage) – Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
- A narrative focused on an event – The Monkey Trial: John Scopes and the Battle over Teaching Evolution by Anita Sanchez (to be released in March 2023)
As writers, part of the revision process requires us asking if we’ve accomplished the goals we had for our writing. Did we make the point we wanted to make? Will our readers understand the story we are telling and the information we share? If not, could a new approach help?
Techniques to try
If you’re feeling stuck, try some of these techniques:
- Flip the format: If you’ve written an informational or narrative piece could you add images and turn it into a comic?
- Narrow your focus: If you’ve written a broad overview of a topic, what would happen if you rewrote your piece using a different lens focused on a single person, place, or thing?
- Rethink your main character: Any person, place, thing, or event could be the center of a narrative. If you’ve focused on a person, could you refocus on an event or a relationship instead?
As writers, a flexible approach to our writing is key, especially when something’s not working. So give yourself a gift this holiday season – the freedom to try something new.
One more parting gift
If you’re looking for another way to reenergize your writing as we approach the New Year, you might try Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas for Writers, which begins Dec. 26. Teachers, you can sign up for the daily emails here and share the process with your students after break.
Per Julie’s site, the 12 Days of Christmas gives writers:
- Exercises to evaluate and integrate their previous writing year so they are ready for the new one.
- Tools to illuminate successes in order to go even further in their writing.
- Inspriation for how to write through tough times.
I go through this process each and every year and love what it does for my writing life.
Wishing you and yours a safe and healthy holiday season!