Word Play (a writing night for families)

Tomorrow night I’ve been invited to talk with parents and host a mini-writing workshop for families. You must know, about a week ago, our youngest, Sam (a first grader), gave two slips of paper to each family member, along with a pen, and said, “Write two titles or story ideas on these slips. I’ll be back.”

Soon he was back with a small pitcher and said, “Put your idea in here and meet me at the table.”

Primarily because of curiosity, the entire family went to the table. There, we found a piece of notebook paper at each seat. (I promise I didn’t set this up!) Sam was the last to arrive and said, “Have a seat. Welcome to family writing night.” He covered the top of the pitcher and gave it a little shake. Then he offered the pitcher to each person to draw a slip of paper. “Write your story,” he said.

“It’s bedtime, so it’ll have to be quick,” I said. Andy laughed. Sam started writing. I did too. The girls looked at each other then giggled. Andy started writing words. So did Hannah and Stephanie.

Sam stopped writing and said, “I’ve been writing stories for four days. Mom said to make your characters move, think, and talk. Try it.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

Fifteen minutes later, I said, “Okay, we have to stop. It’s bedtime.”

“Not until we share,” Sam said.

Andy smirked at me across the table. He’s your son, the look said. So we each read our stories aloud. It was a lot of fun, but it was also bedtime. “Okay, up to bed,” I said.

But Sam wasn’t finished yet. “Thanks for coming to our first family writing night. We’ll do it again soon,” he said.

I’ve never considered orchestrating a family writing night. However, it now has my full endorsement.

Tomorrow, I plan to share a handful of ideas with parents.

We’ll start with thinking about stories we can tell. I’ll encourage families to tell ONE TIME stories.

We have time to tell stories and write together…if we want to chose to spend our time in this way.

Find natural fits in our days for sharing stories. In the car, around the table, at bedtime are all possibilities.

One of my favorite parts of this message. It’s important for parents to know perfection isn’t expected.

The majority of the time will be writing together — inspired by Sam. At the end of the evening, every family gets a blank book to take home and write together. I’m looking forward to the magic of story tomorrow night.