Happier Writing with Unicorns
What inspires someone to write? I have spent more days than I care to admit staring at an empty notebook or empty screen, waiting for the universe to drop gold-plated, glittering sentences that read like music and stir people’s souls. I always read advice about how you should write down whatever you can, as long as you’re writing, but it’s hard to let go of the magical first-draft fantasy. My ten-year-old daughter Amelia has unlocked the secret: shiny unicorn notebooks.
We just started fifth grade in what is our third year of homeschooling. Last year, Amelia used a proper-looking black composition book for her writing prompts. I’d noticed that she was having some mechanical issues holding pages open, and the book seemed to annoy her, so this summer, I asked if she’d prefer to use a spiral notebook. After a shockingly enthusiastic reply from her, I bypassed the closet full of 59-cent back-to-school notebooks (sorry, husband), and I set out to buy her a notebook that was a little sturdier and reflected her personality. I struck gold — unicorn floaties and candy. I had to get a three-pack with different designs, but the other two are almost equally sweet. Amelia flipped. Once she had her prized notebook, she spent weeks saying she was anxiously awaiting her first writing prompt. On day one, she got her wish.
I mean, I’m not a monster. It was the first day. Still, I asked her to write about three things she’d like us to study this school year — just your basic intro, three paragraphs with some detail, and a conclusion. That said, if someone popped up out of the blue and told me “write this,” I might have been flustered for a bit. However, Amelia grabbed some notebook paper (so as not to sully her magical unicorn notebook with a draft), knocked out an outline, filled it in to make a draft, and created a final version, all in the space of an hour.
Sure, Amelia had a couple of typos (we chatted about giving your final draft one last read-through), but she’d put pen to paper and worked it out without self-editing herself to death. I struggle every day to write down my thoughts without first strangling them, and she made it look easy — all for the love of one stellar notebook.