In creative writing classes, are mechanics like grammar, punctuation, & spelling important?

I like to think of our writing workshops as a funnel. We start out brainstorming expansive ideas. We ask, “What if…?” over and over again, pouring our ideas into the wide opening at the top of the funnel.

Funnel fun ideas onto the page!

Then, we gradually focus on one topic, character, setting, etc. and brainstorm specific details about it, funneling closer and closer to the page.

Then kids focus on their own ideas and work on expressing them in writing. All forms of writing are really about sharing ideas. So we focus a lot on ideas and getting the creative juices flowing. Then funnel them down into words.

In my personal feedback to kids on their assignments, I provide a few comments about word choice, grammar, spelling, punctuation, because yes, they are important. But I include LOTS of comments about what they’re doing right (and they’re always doing a LOT right!).

After working as a writer, editor, and proofreader for more than 23 years, I know I wouldn’t have been hired or retained without a high level of accuracy. But a sole focus on mechanical skills can be tough on writers of all ages, so we’ll take it step-by-step. If a person is too nervous to write anything at all, then we have nowhere to start in the editing process.

If we can experience a few “Ah-ha!” moments and share our sense of humor and rule-bending ideas in a supportive environment, then we’re on our way!

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

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