How to Inspire Students to Write By Linda Davis-Kyle

07/02/2015 | By More

By Linda Davis-Kyle

As a youth, Lisa Shontea Nichols (b.d. May 18, 1966) endured from her speech teacher the words, “Miss Nichols, you should never speak in public” and from her composition teacher, “Miss Nichols, you’re the weakest writer I ever met in my entire life.” 1

Books are one of our greatest treasures. Photo by Linda Davis-Kyle, Copyright © 2014.

Books are one of our greatest treasures. Photo by Linda Davis-Kyle, Copyright © 2014.

Rising above Denigrating Criticism

Yet, about three decades later, Lisa is a world-renowned transformational speaker who addresses audiences of 10,000 plus, and she is a bestselling author of six books with a seventh—Abundance Now: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today—ready for release at the time of this writing. As Lisa puts it, she “writes bestsellers, not books.” She is a co-author of Living Proof: Celebrating the Gifts That Came Wrapped in Sandpaper and the author of No Matter What! 9 Steps to Living the Life You Love and Unbreakable Spirit: Rise Above the Impossible. Not only is she a world-renowned speaker and bestselling author, but also Lisa is the founder and CEO of the multi-million dollar company Motivating the Masses, Inc.

Hearing Discouraging Comments May Be Quite Common

While aspiring writers can find a multitude of teachers and established writers making discouraging comments about and to youthful writers, I, as a contrarian on the matter, feel that it is important to encourage young learners to write as soon as they show any interest in writing. Some parents may see their very young children—who have enjoyed hearing stories read to them—sit with a notepad and draw wavy lines before the youngsters can read for themselves or even know the alphabet. When asked, “What are you doing?” they very well may say proudly, “I’m writing a story.” When such an action happens, parents I have known capitalize on that moment and encourage those efforts.

Appreciating Astute Parents, Grandparents, and Teachers

From the tiny bit I know from Richard Bandler, the great and wonderful co-creator of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, I suspect he would praise the parent or teacher who fosters growth of thought in youngsters and their keen desire to put pencil to paper to write. Bandler likely would say that the words spoken are of supreme importance to young and mature alike who are inspired to write. To make it clear, neither Bandler nor I are talking about false praise. I’m referring to looking for and finding something good in the young writers’ compositions, theme papers, articles, stories, poems, songs, and books. Some careless comments can, in a sense, “hypnotize” and devalue the efforts of youthful writers.

Acknowledging the Impact of Positive Effort and Encouragement

Some who seem to tell youngsters they are not experienced enough to write, they have not seen enough of the world to write, they have no voice or style to write, may be wholly and completely correct in their assumption. I believe, though, that offering constructive criticism with thoughtful suggestions is totally welcome. Young writers learn to write by writing and being nurtured in their efforts. Giving harsh criticism can crush the spirit of some young writers. It is akin to pulling on a sprouting plant, uprooting it, and killing it before it has a chance to develop strong roots and flourish. Thoughtful communication and correction are to the students as water and sunlight are to the emerging sprouts. Why destroy enthusiasm in any eager writers—young or mature—who choose to share their talent with the world? Why try to stymy the love of a budding talent that needs only attention, direction, and their own devotion to their worthy goal?

Encouraging and Fostering the Love of Writing

One learns by taking lessons, by observing others doing their chosen activity, and by diving into the activity with passion. I prefer to encourage young writers. I say to young and mature writers alike that “no matter what anyone says to try to dissuade you or what anyone does to put obstacles in your path, keep studying and reading and working to improve your craft.” 2

Motivating with Encouraging Words from the Heart

Not all teachers are like Lisa’s. Encouragement can come from the hearts of caring teachers, parents, grandparents, and mentors. Reading and writing daily can keep would-be writers energized. Practicing step by step can help eager writers-in-the-making conquer obstacles that arise not only in writing but also in life. Adults who choose to be their mentors can guide and support teens to improve their writing through serious application of some fun ways of looking at writing. If your teens choose to continue to use some of the modest approaches to writing such as warm ups (which seasoned writers may or may not use) while exploring and learning more complicated techniques to polish their talents all the while, who knows where their writing will lead them as they go forth into the world?

Looking Inside the Writing World of Some Teens

Had Jake Marcionette’s mother not encouraged Jake, he would not be a triumphant author with his published books such as Just Jake #1 and Just Jake: Dog Eat Dog #2.
His mother “encouraged” him. Actually, he explains that she “forced” him to write an hour and a half each day. As a successfully published author, though, force is no longer part of the equation. Marcionette says he “loves writing” now. 3
Rachel Parent’s family encouraged Rachel in her passion to help bring the important anti-GMO message to her peers, her country, and the world. Had her parents not supported her efforts Rachel would not have had the opportunity to meet with Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose to speak her mind.

Putting Writing Rules to Good Use

Sure. It’s good to have a handle on grammar and the parts of speech before one dives right in to write. The late Gary Provost says, “…you cannot write well without [the rules of grammar].” 4
And, as I say in The Busy English Teacher… “recognizing parts of speech and how writers put the words to work can contribute to great fun and relevant learning for eager scholars. An abundance of practice researching, reading, and noting spelling awaits them around every corner. When given a little nudge in the right direction to motivate them, teens may be amazed with their own power. Young learners can experience the joy of learning. They can stretch their thinking when given fun challenges and exciting opportunities to explore. They can accept challenges they have not even thought of accepting before if presented in a non-threatening and fun way.” 5

Writing Even before Becoming Supersaturated in Rules

Making a bold effort to keep the joy of writing alive some educators do not intrude on the creative process for quite some time. Montessori schools, with which I am familiar, maintain an initial hands-off policy and just let budding writers write. After the young learners are comfortable with their masterpieces, their teachers, known as guides, gently introduce patterns and rules of spelling and grammar while still managing not to stifle the creativity of the young writers. Some students may excel in spite of harsh criticism, or even because of it as Lisa has. Nevertheless, some teachers may choose to nurture rather than negate the writing of young students to help them achieve their dreams. If they wish, teachers can leave a legacy of kindness. Their kindness can live to connect with the hearts of their students to help sustain their inner power long after the teachers have gone.


1 Nichols, Lisa. “Questions That Will Stir Your Soul,” YouTube ~ 24:32.
2 ldk, The Writer’s Friend, p. 14.
3 Marcionette, Jake.
4 Provost, Gary. 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing. New York: Mentor, 1985, p. 107.
5 ldk, The Busy English Teacher’s Fun Activities & Exercises for Pre-Teens: Grammar Mind Maps, Fitness Games & More. Amazon Kindle Book.

About the Author

Linda Davis-Kyle, MA, has been published in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia in professional journals such as Modern Drama in Canada, Chem Matters in the USA, Jewish Affairs in the Republic of South Africa, and Studies in English Literature in Japan, and in magazines such as Common Ground in Canada and Green Farm Natural Health in the United Kingdom. She also is the author of “Exploring ‘Treasure Storehouses’ of the World” found on the American Dyslexia Association website. Davis-Kyle’s Amazon Kindle book The Busy English Teacher’s Fun Activities & Exercises for Pre-Teens is the perfect time-saving gift for overworked educators, and it is overflowing with fun learning exercises that nurture minds, bodies, and spirits of young learners.

Category: Dyslexia, News

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