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Bravewriter Freewrite

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Hi Everyone,


Does anyone do a "Bravewriter-like-freewrite" in their house?    If so, could you tell me a bit about what that looks like in your family?  


I've purchased TWJ along with her freewrite guide just to check out the philosophy, and I am still not sure if my kids are ready for a freewrite.   Maybe I am missing the information, but I don't see where she recommends WHEN you start a freewrite in that book.  


Up until this point, my kids have been asked to generate ZERO original content.   They have also never volunteered to write something on their own in their freetime. (I used to do that when I was a kid, and I know of other kids their age who do that.)   They do spelling (AAS), grammar (FLL), and copywork, dictation, or oral narration.   They occasionally write letters to their friends with my help...so I guess that is original content.  But not much besides that!    (My kids are 9 and 7 and we are calling this 3rd and 2nd grade.)


After reading TWJ, I had these questions.....


At what age/stage did you start freewriting? (Or do you suggest starting?)


Do you give prompts?  (I see the author suggests topics on her blog.) 


Do you stick to the 10 minute time limit?


Have you tried it and it failed miserably?   If so, why do you think it did?



Last night my oldest son (who is very imaginative), told me about a book he is going to write "someday".   Last night he told me that his idea would be for a Sherlock Holmes vampire novel.  In it, Sherlock Holmes would be hired to help a lady whose relative had been turned into a vampire.  (Only they wouldn't know that was what was wrong with him.  They would find that out in the course of the story.)   And Sherlock Holmes would have to use his powers of deduction to find a cure for the vampire.   (Where he gets these ideas I don't know!)


I think that is a really great idea for a 9 year old. (I would read a book like that!)   I feel like I should do something to help kindle this idea into a flame..... BUT, when he tells me things like this, I am not sure where to go with it.   Do I encourage him to get those ideas on paper with my help?  What does that look like for a kid who has generated zero original content?   Maybe he narrates orally to me while I scribe?   Or I give him a freewrite with his own selected topic?  


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I did it with Calvin.  I think he was about nine.  He would get really stuck, worrying about his handwriting and whether the piece was good enough.


I started off with just a minute or two, then built up.  I gave him a prompt if he wanted, but he was free to write whatever he pleased.  The only rule was that his pencil had to move for the whole time.  When he finished, I would (in the early days) just say, 'Great, you really kept going,' then put it away without reading it.  As he became more relaxed, he would hand it to me to read and I would find something (anything!) to praise, and nothing to criticise.


It really helped to free up his writing.

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We do BW style freewrites.


I think your kids are likely able to do it - especially your 9 yo. Julie would say that any child who feels ready could do it and lots of people on the BW lifestyle group do a sort of modified freewrite where they let kids in the Jot it Down stage narrate stories to them.


We sometimes do a topic, but often not. My kids don't like a topic so much.


For younger kids, I think lists are good ways to get started freewriting. Make a list of your favorite foods, your favorite books, places you've been, words you like, things you would do with a million dollars, etc.


One of the concepts behind freewrites is that you just let them happen, keep them short, don't interfere, don't judge, don't correct, just be supportive. Also, kids don't have to share them. The goal is to free up the mind and get the pencil moving.


The vampire story idea (which is super awesome) is also the sort of thing my boys would come up with... and then wouldn't be willing to write about for a freewrite. They'd be on to the next idea. It's okay if they refuse to write the ideas that you think are cool down (believe me, I've faced that many times) and it's okay if the ideas that do come out seem worse or less formed or if the freewrites start and go nowhere. Both my ds have a million story freewrites that go nowhere. It's okay - it just helped them practice getting out words.

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I did BW freewrites with my kids when they were 9,11,13 (it was most difficult for my dysgraphic teen). I also had a little one dictate some to me.

We would all sit at the table and do a freewrite (including mom) - usually from a prompt. We'd time it then share if they wanted. It was usually lots of fun and silly. It was wonderful to get my non-writers to get something on paper.



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My daughter is 7 and really loves the BW freewrites! She enjoys knowing that other kids are wtiting at the same time and we keep it super lowkey.


I would do what BW calls Jot it Down with your 9 year olds story. Basically, he talks and you write. Get as much of it down as you can and then talk it up! Tell the family about it, ask him to read it at dinner, brag to the grandparents, whatever you think will be exciting to him. We started jotting down this past summer and almost immediately my daughter started writing more in her play and free time. It has been a really simple and amazing game changer!!

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My 6 year old does it, having started maybe 8 months ago. We only do one a week.


At what age/stage did you start freewriting? (Or do you suggest starting?) We started at 5.5 but my daughter was already a decent writer... well, not a decent writer but her grammar was ok (about second grade level) and her spelling was very good (about 4th grade level).


Do you give prompts?  (I see the author suggests topics on her blog.) Yes, I use hers OR I come up with something recent.


Do you stick to the 10 minute time limit? I do 5 minutes. I know she says to go to 10 but despite her abilities, my daughter is not ready for 10 minutes... at least I feel like she runs out of steam at about 4 minutes, she is just keeping the pen moving until 5 (not necessarily a bad thing).


This probably makes me sound awful but the hardest part for me is not judging when she reads it to me. I think in TWJ, it says to find one positive thing to say. Sometimes I've got to struggle to keep positive.


We afterschool so there's not a lot of extra time during the school year, but this past summer we did freewrites with snip and pin (or whatever it is called), where she wrote X number of freewrites, then picked one for expansion. We took that, wrote 3 more freewrites on it, etc.

Edited by tm919
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We do free writes. Not every week, but as often as we can. The kids absolutely love them. I usually pick a prompt, which some kids ignore. I scribe if people cannot write themselves. The kids actually decide if the want me to scribe or not. We usually do about 8 minutes, but they can finish at the end of thy have more to say. Then they illustrate if they want, and share. They love to share. They read them, we say something approving, and the paper goes in the binder. I don't look at them. The point is to get them putting their own words on paper without worrying about the picky stuff that gets practiced in spelling, copy book, and grammar. They bug me to do them, they enjoy them so much. I haven't done one with the five year old this year, but 6 is a great age to start, with scribing.

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We do freewrites, too. I think ds was 7 when we started doing them. Dd is more likely to sit down and write on her own, so she took to them like a duck to water. It wasn't so easy for ds, but following the guidelines, I told him he could just write "I don't know what to write" over and over if he felt it necessary! He did something like that for the first one, but has been doing better and better ever since.


I do them along with the kids, and we read out our writing to each other once we're finished. I don't criticize or correct them; I find point(s) to praise and leave it at that.


We use the "Friday Freewrite" ideas from the blog. My kids (and I!) need them.


We started with a 4-minute time frame, but are finding, as we all get better at it, that we are needing longer and longer!


Freewriting is definitely a part of school that the kids really enjoy.

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We've just got home from doing ours. We go to a cafe every Monday morning to read poetry and do a free write. Today may or may not have included a mindful tasting exercise focused on cake. :leaving:


We started doing it some time last year. DD was 8, she'd been writing letters to relatives for over a year and never lack something to say. We have to write for fifteen minutes, though, because she has motor planning issues and that's how she feels she needs. It's a bit too much for me most of the time, honestly!


Last year she wrote what she liked and was mostly working on a continuous story. This year we're trialling using prompts, otherwise all I do is rant.  :huh:

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We do Friday Free-writes a la Bravewriter.  My DS is a reluctant writer, so we started this fall with just 5 minutes, and he could choose any topic.  The first few months were mostly just paragraphs about Star Wars, or Transformers, or Legos.  Now I will sometimes give him a topic, and we are up to 10 minutes. He doesn't love having a topic but he doesn't fight with me either.  He actually asks for free writes now!

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At what age/stage did you start freewriting? (Or do you suggest starting?)


Go for it. If your child writes comfortably, feel free to do it as suggested by BW. If your child struggles with the physical act of writing, then allow your kid to dictate his/her thoughts to you while YOU write or type it. 


Do you give prompts?  (I see the author suggests topics on her blog.) 


If needed, sure. Let the child reject prompts he or she is not motivated by. Try to angle any prompts to the interests, passion, and knowledge base of the child. 


Do you stick to the 10 minute time limit?


Yes. It keeps the freewrite from being overwhelming. Best to stop the writing before exhaustion hits. For some people that may be more or less time, but just hold to the idea that the session should be short, and the session must stop before the writer is tired.


Have you tried it and it failed miserably?   If so, why do you think it did?


Generally when a freewrite doesn't fly as expected, the reason is often based in either fatigue (physical, mental, or emotional), pressure, or lack of motivation. Fatigue can be addressed by shortening the session or by taking dictation for the child. Pressure is more complicated--is the parent pressuring the kid, leading to dislike and emotional fatigue? Back off. Or allow the child to write secretly, promising not to read it. Or allow the child to write for a different adult for a time. Follow up future attempts by keeping the session short and saying nothing but praise for whatever the child writes. On the other hand, perhaps the child feels pressured by his/her perfectionism? Or pressured by the timer? Or comparing himself or herself to an older sibling? There are many reasons for self pressure, and many tricks to ease that. Finally, a lack of motivation can be addressed by choosing subjects that the child is knowledgeable about and that the child likes. Make a short list together and choose prompts from that list.


Bottom line--Keep it simple. The freewrite is not meant to generate perfect essays. It's meant to get the process started, to keep the words and ideas flowing. From the freewrites, you can choose some ideas or pieces to further develop, but don't force every freewrite into a longer, polished piece.



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My boys are 10 and 13.  We start our writing class with about 10 minutes of free writing.  The stories can be as goofy or serious as they like.  They don't have to show them to me.  I usually tell them to keep the stories short on purpose.  For us, the point is simply to get sluggish brains working.  They stories don't have to be more than 6 or so sentences (including prompt) if they don't want them to be.  Most of the time they do this (very short responses to the prompts.)


Once in a while, they'll like a prompt so much that they work on the same story for a few days in a row.  That's fine. 


I found that prompts that other people wrote for me (Julie at Bravewriter) seemed designed for long stories or more thoughtful stories.  My prompts that I make up each week are meant for a quick start to the day.


Here's what I have so far.  Only have 79 more prompts to make up this year!  (So....if anyone has ideas of prompts like this, that would be great!  It's not always easy coming up with prompts!)


​P.S.  I just noticed that a few of the prompts in the beginning were linked to our reading of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and one was linked to a very funny, to us, error one of my son's made on his math work.  (The answer was 2 blankets, but he came up with 162 blankets.)


​After those few specific prompts, the rest are very general.



Cycle 1


  1. A boy throws a ball into the sky.  It doesn't come back down.  Where did it go?
  2. If you had to have an animal body part, what would you want and why?
  3. Why was there a lamppost in the middle of a wood? 
  4. You wake up tomorrow morning with superpowers.  What are they?
  5. If you were to enter a world like Narnia, what would be your doorway?  It has to be something you know about in real life and it can't be a wardrobe.


Cycle 2


  1. Answer the witch's question:  What are you? 
  2. You put money in your piggybank.  One day, you break the piggybank to get the money but when you do, there's no longer money inside.  Instead there's…what…inside?
  3. Think of any random word when I say "brush your teeth."  Now, link brush your teeth to the word you said in a story.
  4. Eric's math book, pg 16. He did his word problem wrong and came up with 162 blankets for everyone vs 2 blankets for everyone.  The question is:  Where did all those extra blankets come from??


Cycle 3


  1. (From FUFI, Chpt 7) Have you ever had a dream such as Lewis described in this chapter?  Write about it.  If not, write about the nicest dream you have ever had.
  2. You can hold your breath for 20 minutes. You swim down to the bottom of the lake across the street.  What do you find on the bottom?
  3. What is the Loch Ness monster?
  4. What stopped the clock in the playroom (not that the batteries died)?
  5. Write down the first word you think of when I say "fluffy kittens".  Now link "Once upon a time…" to that word.

    Cycle 4


  1. Where do the tiny people in our house live?
  3. WHERE DID WE FIND YOU? (note to WTMer:  I tell the boys silly stories of where we found them when they were babies.  Sometimes I say I bought them from the aquarium.  Sometimes I say that I found them floating along on a dandelion fluff and took them home, etc.  This was for the boys to come up with where they were found)


Cycle 5


  1. Where do all the missing socks go?
  2. If you could time travel, when would you go?
  3. Tell me the sad, sad tale of The Squirrel Who Teased The Cat.
  4. Who would win in a fight, Jedi Knights or the Avengers? Why?
  5. A boy is running as fast as he can down the street carrying a basket.  What is in the basket and why is he running?


Cycle 6


  1. Give me a Noun.  Give me a Verb.  Give me a Place that you know.  Once upon a time, a NOUN was VERBING to the PLACE.  Tell what happened next.
  2. If you were invisible, where would you sneak?
  3. Who would win? Wonder Woman or Black Widow.  Why?
  4. Once upon a time, a boy wanted to be a _____ when he grew up.  But he couldn't.  Because…
  5. Give me a household chore.  Give me the name of one of your friends.  Write a story about the chore and your friend.


Cycle 7


  1. An object in the house becomes magic (like a magic carpet or a genii lamp).  What is the object and what are its magical properties?


Cycle 8


  1. One day, Miles the cat went on a great adventure.  He….
  2. If you could be famous for something, what would you want to be famous for?  Why?
  3. The boy put on the cape. He climbed to the roof of the house.  He jumped and then
  4. What kind of house do you want to live in?  Why?



Cycle 9


  1. Those skinny lights hanging down from the cafeteria celling aren't really lights.  What are they?
  2. Tell the tale of The Boy Who Wouldn't.
  3. What if your favorite toy interviewed you?  What questions would be asked and how would you answer?


Cycle 10


  1. If you were King of the House, what rules would you make?
  2. What if your friends were the Avengers.  Which friend would be which avenger?
  3. Write a love letter from one sock to the other.


Cycle 11


  1. What would you and your clones do, if you had clones?
  2. Once upon a time there was a troll who wanted to be an elf.  So he…
  3. Once upon a time there was a family that never cleaned anything. One day…
  4. Once upon a time there was a family that always cleaned up everything all day long. One day…


Cycle 12


  1. One time, when the president was giving a speech outside, a feather blew past and tickled him on the nose.  He was so startled he…
  2. Nutty the squirrel was a very bad squirrel.  He…
  3. One day a boy who longed to travel was wandering in an antique store. He found an old globe and when he touched it…
  4. One day a boy as walking in the woods.  He saw an old cave with something glittering inside so he…


Cycle 13


  1. One time a trash collector looked in the trash he was collecting. He saw…
  2. He raced through the dark cave, dodging every arrow.


Cycle 14


  1. Finish Friday's story
  2. Jack's mother threw the "magic" beans out of the window. The next day…
  3. One day Miles the cat was nosing around in the basement.
  4. End a story with "…and that is why a piggy bank is shaped like a pig."


Cycle 15


  1. "Hey! Come here," my shipmate yelled. "LOOK at what I found in the hold!"
  2. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop and why?
  3. End a story with "…and that is why zebras make bad house pets."
  4. Why did Yankee Doodle call the feather "macaroni?"


Cycle 16


  1. The morning that I woke up with purple hair was also the morning that…
  2. Miles the cat knew that he shouldn't swing from the curtains, but…


Cycle 17


  1. I was standing on deck of the USS Constitution with my ipad in hand. Suddenly, I realized it wasn't an ipad, but it was a piece of hardtack and I could feel swaying movement under my feet…
  2. Tell Cat's backstory.


Cycle 18


  1. I'd never touched a violin before, but there was something unusual about this one. When I picked it up…
  2. I told the taxi driver, 'Follow that car!' and we sped off.
  3. I was helping grandma move out of her house. Alone in the attic, I slid the old dresser toward the steps. To my surprise there was a door hidden behind the dresser.  I…
  4. Give me a Noun.  Give me a Verb.  Give me a Place that you know.  Once upon a time, a NOUN was VERBING to the PLACE.  Tell what happened next.
  5. People say that Lions are the Kings of the Jungle. But that's true.  Let me tell you about the real King of the Jungle...


Edited by Garga
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I took all the email tips and put them on index cards and then we draw a card and complete it.  I've pulled ideas from other sources as well, but the majority are from Bravewriter.  We don't do the Friday Freewrite exactly, more like an "inspired by".  Some favorites - written conversation -- excellent for using quotations in speech, draw 5 words (10 words, etc) from poetry kit and try to combine them into a sentence, stretch a sentence activities, etc.  We started this two years ago, if I remember correctly, so my middle kiddo would have been 7.  My middle kiddo is a perfectionist, so I just remind her when we start that we aren't worrying about spelling or mechanics during the exercise, we just want to get the thoughts on paper. 

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Guest Piddlepuppy

You son will write a book someday.....  He can start today.  You can sit down with him and say, how do you want to start it, I'll help you a little with the writing but I can't imagine the story for you.  It needs to be your story.


Then he tells you the story a little, and you take some notes on a computer so he can edit them.  Then it's not an English assignment, it's a neat little project.  Does he need to know how to spell?  Nope, spell check will do that for him.  And you can ask him to read the words back to you.  Then you can say, you wouldn't say it like that would you, how would you say it?  And he can say it and feel like he's improved it.


A little each day.  No grade.  It's a little project, that improves on a daily basis.


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