Make Writing a Priority

“Homeschooling” is much more than simply “doing school at home.”

If we’re not careful, we can fall into the habit of patterning our educational experience after the segmented categories of traditional school. But homeschooling offers a unique opportunity to fully explore subjects that interest us as we acquire competence in the component disciplines. When basic skills are studied in the context of delight directed pursuits, you won’t hear “I’ll never use this stuff you’re making me learn” because students are using those skills to accomplish their own goals.

In our state homeschools are required to teach “reading, spelling, language, math, and a course in good citizenship.” If you have (or if you ARE) a budding writer, creative writing is a valid academic pursuit that can incorporate all of those required areas.

Reading–One of the most effective ways to develop a writer’s voice is to read, read, read! Read classics and contemporary best-sellers, inspirational and secular, histories, mysteries, and adventures. Take note of the books you enjoy and the ones you want to throw against a wall. Analyze the craftsmanship of your favorite authors, then go thou and do likewise.

Spelling–If you want to write, you need to be able to spell. Sure you could use spell check, but your computer will not tell you whether to use “there,” “they’re,” or “their.” Besides, it’s cumbersome. To be professional, make a list of words you misspell and commit time to studying those.

Language–Same goes for grammar. If you hope to be taken seriously, you’re going to have to understand basic grammar and punctuation. Master your native tongue! In school, “creative writing” consisted of the occasional fun assignment buried beneath reams of copied exercises in sentence diagramming. Yuck! Grammar doesn’t have to be torturous. Get yourself a good reference book such as the Chicago Manual of Style (it’s even available online here) and bone up on the rules you most frequently use.

Math–Okay, I’ll admit that creative writing alone will not satisfy your need to master algebraic equations, but professional writers use math to figure word count per page, average pages per chapter, projected length of a book and plot transitions at 1/3, 1/2, and 3/4. Plus if you ever become famous, you’ll need to figure out how many books you’ll have to sell before you’ve earned your initial commission and can begin to collect 6% royalty (once your agent gets their hard-earned 15%, of course).

Good Citizenship–Freedom of the press is so important to a free society that it is protected by the very first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It’s no accident that freedom of religion is mentioned in the same amendment. Any form of self-expression conveys something of ourselves–the things we believe in and value. C. S. Lewis wrote The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe long before there were Christian publishing houses, yet the message of salvation shines through that story because it was a part of the author’s worldview. If you aspire to write, it’s important to have something worthwhile to say, and it’s important to say it with excellence.

About Lynn Dean

Lynn Dean dictated her first story before she could write and continued to write stories, illustrate them, and bind them into books throughout childhood. As a homeschooling mom, she enjoyed passing a love for writing to her own children and ten years of co-op students.

Read more about Lynn.

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