Write It Down!

Journaling and storytelling for families

Could writing be your family’s next shared activity? Making writing part of your household routine can benefit children and parents alike. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to write, or worse yet, feel you have nothing to say. You do!

Writing doesn’t have to feel like work. By making writing a daily low-pressure activity that the whole family can enjoy, you will be setting up your children for success.

Journaling: turning off the inner critic

Starting a journal-writing practice is as simple as picking out a new notebook. Pair that with 10 minutes a day of putting pen to paper, and you’re off. A notes file on your phone or Word document on your computer would also suffice.

In journaling there is no wrong approach or wasted word. If you start with free-writing the only goal is to keep the words and ideas flowing. Anything goes.

The most important aspect of this practice is that the words are for the author alone. A reassurance that you will not be reading each other’s writing unless the writer chooses to share, can go a long way towards helping to turn off our inner critics. It is easy to feel bottled up and self-conscious when we start a writing practice but knowing you don’t have to share what you write can be a welcome relief.

Before long you’ll probably find that you can’t wait to share what you’ve written with each other and the initial 10 minutes is stretching into many more.

Family Stories: understanding perspective

To give your writing practice some direction, focus on turning experience into written reflection in the form of memoir, biography, or even narrative non-fiction. Even the most reluctant writers can enjoy the process of turning their own experiences and family folklore into short memoirs or graphic novels.

Memory is a rich and welcoming resource. Choose any family story or shared experience and encourage each family member to write down, in their own way, what stands out to them. It is a valuable exercise to see what resonated with different family members and what details hold significance in everyone’s memories.

This exercise can help connect younger generations to their elders. What better way to gain valuable knowledge of different times and places than to turn the story of how Grandma and Grandpa met into a short narrative? Without it feeling like homework, your writers will be exploring setting and perspective before they know it.

Social Media: contemporary communication

Connecting your family’s writing practice to your kids’ real everyday world can often be tough. One possible real-life solution: Work on social media posts together as a family.

It can be as simple as choosing a photo (old or new) and assigning a family member to write a few short sentences to accompany it. These posts might find themselves in a private account for just close friends and family to see or as a beautiful form of photojournalism for a larger audience. Add an unlisted YouTube account and you might be writing vlogging scripts with your children for the next family holiday!

Instead of fighting about the time spent on social media, you’ll be harnessing the power of communication to offer your family a valuable tool.

First Steps

Written communication is a part of our daily lives and also of our children’s future. These are inclusive activities to begin building the skills needed to feel successful in writing practices as a family. With very little preparation you’ll find yourselves exploring how we communicate and experience the world around us, gaining valuable experience along the way. Finding a passion for writing can happen at any age, why not let the youngest family members lead the way?

If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a prompt. Describe a journey. You only need your notebook or laptop and 10 minutes. You might be surprised where your writing takes you!

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