Stumbling block #3 – Lack of motivation

by | Nov 16, 2009 | Struggling Writers

No Motivation to Write | 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing - Offer kids a wide variety of writing experiences and freedom to choose topics. 

Last week we talked about skills and tools a student can use to make his writing more interesting. As we continue this series on 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing, today’s focus turns to a very common writing issue.

Stumbling Block #3

Problem: No motivation to write

Solution: Give kids a wide variety of writing experiences and allow them flexibility to choose topics.

Offer a Varied Writing Diet

Uninteresting or irrelevant topics often produce unmotivated students. One solution? Give your child greater options. Don’t limit him to one kind of writing, like essays or factual reports. Instead, vary his writing diet so he feels more motivated to write!

  • Offer experiences with descriptive, informative, and narrative writing. Let him describe people, places, foods, and objects.
  • To dabble in expository writing, encourage him to explain a process, write short reports or biographies, or write news articles.
  • Teach him to write narratives from varying points of view or in a different voice or tense.

Allow Freedom to Choose Topics

Try give your less-than-motivated student a bit more flexibility of topic choices. Nothing stifles creativity like saying, “You MUST write about THIS.”

I’m not saying your student should run the show. After all, you’re still the teacher! But if you’re teaching a particular kind of writing, such as describing a place, you can give freedom of choice—anything from a baseball stadium to a tea room, from a mountain wilderness to a busy street corner—while remaining within the lesson’s framework. It’s the best of both worlds when you establish some parameters but offer freedom too. When your child feels more “ownership” of the subject matter, you’ll find he’s much more likely to invest himself in the writing.

Tie Writing to Other Subjects

Also, when there’s no motivation to write, consider incorporating writing across the curriculum whenever possible. Instead of teaching writing as a separate subject, writing across the curriculum lets you mesh writing instruction with your study of history, literature, art, music . . . the opportunities are endless.

Write with Delight

And consider delight-directed learning, which allows your student to explore a favorite topic—hobby, sport, historical period, whatever his passion—and write about it in many ways:

  • Using vivid description
  • Explaining a process (“how-to” composition)
  • Writing stories and narratives
  • Writing essays and reports
  • Developing news articles

The beauty of delight-directed learning? Each writing project focuses on a different aspect of your child’s topic of interest, whether it’s Legos, gardening, horses, or antique guns.

No Motivation to Write | 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing

You may grow tired of reading essays, stories, and reports about choosing a helmet, the history of football,  Tim Tebow, and “My First Touchdown,” but if it means your student is writing . . . well, rejoice!

If limited writing vocabulary is an issue for your student, check out the next article in the series, Stumbling Block #4.

2009 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

. . . . .

If your writing curriculum limits your student’s writing experiences or stifles topic choices, you might want to take a look at WriteShop I for your 6th – 10th grader. Each lesson provides the framework for a particular kind of writing but gives the student options to pick his own topic.

Photos: Doniree Walker and Bradley Gordon, courtesy of Creative Commons.


  1. Amy

    This is SO good, give direction, but not too narrow of a focus… Give an idea, yet allow freedom for creativity within the given boundary… yup, I like it.

    Amy in Peru

  2. Kim

    That makes so much sense, Diane. Make sure to check back when we get to Stumbling Block #9: Inability to see a purpose for the writing assignment!

  3. Diane

    My children seem to lack motivation because they lack purpose.

  4. Kimberly

    Absolutely! Why not let the child write about something he’s interested in? 🙂 And across the curriculum…only our creative writing is a topic in and of itself, the rest of our writing is for History, Science, etc.

  5. Isabelle Lussier

    Yes indeed we are…. Thisis my third year of homeschool… Year one – 1 child. Year two – two children. Year three – 3 kids…

    Sometimes I wonder how come I still have my head… LOL

    Seriously though I also have a toddler who wants to sit with us. Not always convenient. Good thing my JK can go play with her sometimes…

    The one that needs more attention is my 3rd grader since I am trying to do grammar in both languages. Yikes. What was I thinking. But we persevere and continue to advance. *grin*

    The SK and JK is mostly basic learning. My SK want to learn to read so we work on that one too… slowly. Not fast enough for him I think. He wants to go shopping with his dad for his own bible. *grin* too cute

  6. Kim

    You’re doing a great job of being a sponge and absorbing all sorts of new info. We’re all still learning, Isabelle, don’t you think? 🙂

  7. Isabelle Lussier

    Flexibility…. such a small word but it tells a lot.

    And it is necessary when you are homeschooling – being flexible so that even if we don’t meet our plans we don’t stress.

    Same goes for writing obviously. Sometimes I can be stuck up in my guidelines… why not being flexible? This year I am trying to be more flexible with my 3rd grader… I’m still learning…



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