10 Reasons Why Family of Writers is Awesome!

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First, what is Family of Writers? It’s an evening writing class I’ve been teaching for almost 30 years, and you can read all about it here.

Last weekend, I began planning 2020 sessions, creating new writing invitations for January classes in Palos Verdes. It’s a labor of love, and I look forward to beginning Family of Writers season each and every year.

But, why? Why is Family of Writers so awesome?

Well, since we all know I’m a big fan of answering my own questions, I’m gonna tell ya.

Let’s get to it. Here are 10 Reasons why Family of Writers is awesome:

  1. It’s a safe place to write. No grades. No forced sharing. All response is positive. Whenever a writer shares, we find golden lines (words, phrases, sentences that we love), and we let the writer know! I describe what the writer did to make the words awesome (that’s where a voracious reading history and some teaching experience comes in handy!). Then, I say to the writer, “Hey, that’s something you already do well. You can do that in your next piece, too.” Then, to everyone else in the room, I say, “Hey, you can do Bob’s technique in your writing, too!”

  2. We write fast. Often, no more than 15 minutes. We keep our pens moving. We don’t worry about spelling (yet!), and we just write I’m stuck I’m stuck I’m stuck until we aren’t. This helps us outrun the internal censor that is constantly saying, “You’re not a writer. You can’t write.” Everyone can write. Everyone has a story to tell. And everyone can cross out those I’m stucks when they finish.

  3. Writers choose their own topics. I give clear directions for a writing invitation, but there is always choice built into the prompt. Writers are always free to go in any direction they choose.

  4. We hang out in the memoir genre. This helps eliminate writer’s block since most of us can write from plenty when we’re writing about ourselves.

  5. We write under in the influence of mentor texts that show us how awesome writing is done! Often, I borrow a first line, last line, or structure from the mentor text. This decreases the writing challenge just enough to allow writers to focus on craft and meaning during super fast writing.

  6. Since families write and share together, there is an authentic and invested audience.

  7. Parents (and teacher!) take risks alongside children. This gives kids confidence to do the same. Even if I’ve done a lousy first draft, I share it. I tell everyone about my unwavering faith that bad first drafts lead to awesome future drafts.

  8. When parents haul themselves back to school after long days at home and work, they show kids that writing is important.

  9. I am not the only teacher in the room. With feedback about what writers are already doing well, I show all the writers in the room that we can learn from each other.

  10. We always have treats. We always have a prize drawing for anyone who shows up on time. Writers, like most humans, respond to bribery pretty well.

After writing this list, I’m even more excited to begin the 2020 season of Family of Writers. I’ll end with the class motto: Arrive tired. Leave inspired.

Always writing,


P.S. I have another Family of Writers motto that’s a bit snarky: Gather your family ‘round the table for more than kale. Or, Nourish your family with words…yeah, I could really go on and on…but I’ll stop when I’m behind.