Five Different Ways to Practise Writing


Getting a child to practise creative writing can be a parent’s worst nightmare. After endless dodging by the child, many to and fro arguments between the parent and the child, often culminating with promises of reward to the child on completing his writing, the child finally sits for the dreary yet necessary exercise. 

The whole experience can be exhausting for the poor parent and uninspiring for the child. On top of that, the idea of practising writing, with the sole aim of scoring high in exam, under a ticking timer and the constant, watchful eye of the parent does not really get the creative juices flowing in the child. Shouldn't creativity be a ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,’ as Wordsworth once said?

That’s right. Writing should not feel like a task. The trick is to make it fun and educational at the same time. Here, we offer you five different and effective ways of making your child practise writing. Let’s get on with the first tip then.

1. Start a scrapbook

Imitation can be a stepping stone to awakening imagination in one. Scrapbooking a stock of handy quotes is a technique vouched for by budding writers. Encourage the child to copy out favourite quotes and fascinating descriptions from literary works. Writing out interesting text stimulates learning as well as creativity in the mind. Remember to ask the child to go through his collection (as a form of reading exercise) at the end of a week or fortnight.

2. Keep a diary or journal: 

Why not gift your child a beautiful diary and help him start on a new literary journey? Inspire the hidden writer in him to record special moments and events of the day. Diary writing can help the child develop unique and personal style of expression. Give your child space and freedom to write as and when he wishes. Starting first as some sporadic entries, diary writing should over a period become a daily exercise.

3. Scribbles and doodles: 

Sometimes writing from scratch can be daunting. To make writing exercise more exciting, take an already existing text and encourage the child to edit, improve or rewrite it. This text could be anything: a short story (many free stories are available on the web), a few paragraphs of a news article, or a work previously written by the child. If you want to create memorable moments with your child, you could write a short piece (story or description) and offer the child to evaluate and enhance it. A reversal of roles will draw the child’s interest and eagerness to re-write.

4. Letter and note writing:

Encourage the child to write letters (or mails) to grandparents, distant cousins and friends. Suggest that the child make cards for occasions like birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc. and enclose special messages for the recipient. With these activities, kids can learn how to communicate, socialise and, at the same time, practise writing skills.

5. Storytelling

Spinning a yarn is in the DNA of human beings. The first seeds of creative writing were implanted there. Nurture this inherent gift by making storytelling part of the day-to-day family discourse. From ‘What happened at school today?’ to ‘Why do you like your teacher?’, narration requires creativity, skill and precise vocabulary. When communicating with your child, ask him to describe the people he met, the places he visited and the feelings evoked in him by his experiences.  This exercise encourages children to be creative when describing the setting, characters, and the story as it unfolds. Ultimately, your child will become confident and less hesitant when he actually sits to write. 

So there you have it: some new ideas to help your child to get writing. Which one do you think will work for your child? 

How to write the diary entry of an object?

No discrimination. The genre of diary entry treats its animate (living) and inanimate subjects (non-living) equally. So should the author. A hand bag, a typewriter or a ladle are as much exemplary narrators as are an astronaut, a teacher or a wimpy kid.

When penning down a day’s experience from their perspective, the inanimate subjects take on a life of their own. They are not mere passive objects of human gaze, but active agents of action. They sense and feel as much as a creature of flesh and blood.

Here we share a few techniques which will help you compose diary entries of objects.

1. Self/implied personification: It’s a no-brainer that an object writing a diary entry must do so like a real human being. The melodious ‘voice’ of a piano is as much worthy of a note as is the ‘trunk’ of a walking stick. Bodily references as well as mortal actions can figure into the picture.

Exploit the literary technique of personification to its full extent:

“I’m the sole DVR in this family, swallowing one music series after the other, depending on the whims of three generations.” (Diary entry of a DVR)

“My frozen cranium contrasts absolutely with my chilly torso.” (Diary entry of a refrigerator)

2. Sentimentalizing: Not just the corporal. Infuse your subject with pressing human emotions.

It could be the injustice meted out to a sulky roll of crushed paper:

“After being brutally tossed into the room’s corner, I was eventually pulverized, when I breathed my last in a paper shredder.”

Or, the daily grousing of a broom:

“Knocks, joggles and sweeps!!! How my life passes in these rude movements.”

3. Transferred epithet: This figure of speech involves a modifier (mostly, an adjective) qualifying not only its primary noun but also another object alongside. It entails a dual allusion. In the case of inanimate objects, the narrator could concoct expressions like:

“I’m a soulful piano.” (Soulful referring to both music and piano; diary entry of a piano)

“Mom calls me ‘a screechy thingamabob.’” (Screechy used for both the device’s ringing and its high volume; diary entry of a mobile phone)

4. Startling beginnings: Introduce your subject by astonishing the readers out of their senses. Humour may play a critical role here. Procrastinate revealing the protagonist’s identity. Relate it to some of its dramatic actions. Thereafter, leave the rest for the readers to wonder.

“I gulp down the litter of the world. Each and every day.” (Diary entry of a dustbin)

“Faces may come and go. Yet, I see the insides out of everyone.” (Diary entry of a mirror)

5. Keen observations: Every narrator must be an acute observer of his world. He takes a note of all the acts and happenings around him with senses wide alert.

“Holy moly, a get-together again! Life is lived to the lees in this house. So, I see the mom now scurrying here and there, arranging delicious dishes. The dad is gone out to fetch wines and champagnes. The kids are merrymaking, way too exhilarated about what’s coming on.”

A diary entry is a highly personalized account of an experience. Hope the above strategies will help you add shades to your central character.