9 Tricky Ways To Motivate A Reluctant Writer

Do you have some reluctant writers that need motivation to get going?

Looking for some fun ways to get them excited about the writing activities this school year?

Be warned that this blog post does not contain your run-of-the-mill tips like using graphic organizers or writing journals.

These tips are also not about teaching the entire writing process.

They are about how to help struggling writers who just hate writing. They see a blank page and they just crumble

Sentences paralyze them and paragraphs bring them to tears.

They think they’re a bad writer, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Below you will find outside-the-box ideas to help your child – dare I say it – enjoy writing! I encourage you to read thoughtfully through them and think about what is holding your student back. 

What is the real writing struggle you’re up against?

9 Helpful Ways To Get A Reluctant Writer Going!

Simplifying the complex, confusion clarity or path. vector idea concept with lightbulbs doodle illustration

1. Double Down on Spelling

Does your child struggle through writing mostly because they are overwhelmed with spelling all the words?

Are they constantly asking you how to spell things? Even if they should know that word from their spelling lessons?

Do you find that their writing doesn’t come close to matching their verbal skills? Or what is actually brewing in their imagination most days?

It dawned on me with my oldest daughter that spelling was one of the main things (among several others) holding her back from a love of writing.

Once I ditched the classic spelling lists and Friday test days, I saw enormous improvement. I strongly recommend All About Spelling to help a kid learn how to spell any word – not just the ones on a list.

In the meantime, consider having the child dictate their words to you, and then they can copy what you have written down. It is still their original thoughts and great ideas but without the pressure of spelling every word. 

With my own young writers, I tell them that I focus on spelling during spelling lessons and writing during writing lessons. That removes a lot of pressure.

2. Alexa/Echo Is Your Friend

Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation

Another game changer for us was having my kid write with an Alexa next to her.

She would get frustrated with constantly asking me how to spell certain words – which she channeled into exhaustion with writing.

I decided to make sure she had an Alexa next to her wherever she was sitting so that she could ask it how to spell words. Genius!

 This method helped my kid’s writing tremendously, and I also think it has improved her spelling as a side benefit.

3. Use Dictation As a Writing Tool

Woman writing on a notepad

If your student has issues with spelling or just gets exhausted with all the things of writing, consider allowing your child to dictate their work to you. 

Most kids light up like a Christmas tree when they are told that they don’t have to actually write anything. They just have to speak the words (in complete sentences) and you write or type them out.

You will likely be amazed at all the ideas and information that is inside your child that just couldn’t get out!

In my homeschool, I told my girls that they had 5-10 minutes every day to dictate a story to me. We would add on to it daily until they were done. They LOVED it! 

My girls were so excited to be able to speak their story into being and throw off all the frustrations they were dealing with writing.

Yes, eventually they have to take a pencil to paper and write, but this dictation method helps kids to see value in writing, creating, and producing original content that came from their head.

All of my kids have graduated to writing their own stories (in their spare time even!) because they were swept away with the whole idea of what might be possible.

4. Provide Fun Picture Writing Prompts or Video Writing Prompts

You may have just had the thought pass through your head…”Um, my kid doesn’t have an issue with spelling, handwriting, or any of that. They just constantly say, ‘I don’t know what to write!'”

I hear you. Writer’s block is a serious thing.

That can be so frustrating for a parent. Your kid looks at you with a vacant stare when you give them a blank piece of paper and ask them to write a paragraph about…well anything.

To help get the creative writing juices flowing for your kids, provide them with picture writing prompts!

My exciting picture writing prompts are one of the most popular free printables on this website. The post gives you access to 40 thought provoking images with leading questions to get your kid focused and thinking about what to write!

I use these printables with my own kids, but we only do it once a week. My kids really look forward to Tuesday and can’t wait to pick their next picture prompt and read the questions.  

If your kid is more techy, a video writing prompt is a great way to get them excited about their own writing!

The above Youtube channel video features a perfect example. There is a short video that walks the student through the scenario that they woke up inside a video game and they have to write about how they’re going to escape!

****If you’re not into free printables or going onto Youtube, check out Rip the Page and/or Once Upon a Pancake. They are outstanding creative writing resources that really make writing fun!

5. Do A No Rules Writing Day/ Older Students “Make The Dough”

No rules red rubber stamp

Writing incorporates so many different skills: letter formation, grammar rules, spelling, sentence structure, paragraph structure, creativity, and originality to name a few. 

This can be paralyzing to young children when they are told to “just write.” There are so many ways they could go wrong!

Something that really helped my middle daughter with this overwhelm was a “no-rules day.”

****Yes, I 100% stole this idea from Spelling You See because it is brilliant. 

Once a week, have your kid write with absolutely no rules.

They can write as much as they want (or as little as they want) about whatever they want. You will not be grading spelling, grammar, or complete sentences.


It is just about writing for fun! The child’s interests and writing could include their favorite video games, their pet as a sports hero, a new ending to their favorite book, or they could even make comic strips!

This kind of open assignment may be difficult for you – no comments, “pointers,” or corrections of any kind! – but it will be a blast for your child.

They will learn to engage with writing and enjoy just putting pencil to paper! Before you know it, they will be begging to write!

Consider using the handwriting blank page template in this post that has a picture box for your child to illustrate their story!

For my older student, I tell her to just “make the dough” when she is given a large writing task. That means just start writing and don’t worry about editing, revising, spelling, or anything else.

Just start the process and get that first draft going.

Tomorrow we will “shape the dough” into something beautiful! This breaks the process of writing into manageable chunks and removes a lot of stress about the writing being “good enough.”

6. Start Or Join A Writing Club

rainbow colored pencil for creative writing

Sometimes the pain of a homeschool writing assignment comes from it feeling pointless to the child.

What is the purpose of writing any of this? Where is it going to go after they’re done?

A portfolio? The trash?

Why bother?

Sometimes a little peer pressure can go a long way! Consider joining a homeschool writing club/class – or start one!

With younger students, you could be something as simple as offering a writing prompt and having the children share their creative ideas and responses.

Older kids could share larger portions of their writing for discussion and critiquing.

Either way, giving your child a place and opportunity to share their writing may be a motivational game changer. 

7. Start Your Kid on a Typing Program

Kid typing on laptop

If your kid dreads picking up a pencil, consider starting them on a free typing program.

My own daughter would always say her hand hurt when she wrote. Around 3rd grade, I started her on a typing program and it has made such a difference!

She went from not wanting to write a sentence, to typing pages and pages at a time on a google doc- for fun!

She will still handwrite certain things, but the large amount of her schoolwork is typed. I imagine this will only help her in the future, since nearly everything is expected to be typed these days.

8. Check Yourself When It Comes to Expectations

Scissors about to cut loose a balloon isolated on white

This might the most important tip on this list.

Homeschool moms (myself included) can feel pressured into meeting imagined expectations.

And sometimes those expectations are developmentally way out of reach for our children.

To give you an idea of what I mean, solid paragraph writing is usually not even introduced until 4th grade. 

So your third grader has no business writing a research paper. 

In fact, pushing your kids too early towards an inappropriate writing goal, may be creating the problem you’re trying to solve.

If your child is resistant to writing, check with a trusted educational professional to see what the standard is for your child’s age. Your curriculum may just be too advanced and you need to pump the brakes.

9. Rethink Your Writing Curriculum

Diagram of Writing Process

Unfortunately, not all curriculums are made equal.

If your language arts/writing curriculum is super vague with writing instruction, then you might want to think about investing in something else.

Kids will get very frustrated with fuzzy instructions that just say, “write a poem,” “write a sentence,” or “write a paragraph,” without any other solid support to help them through the process.

Especially if it is the first time for them. 

I personally love Paragraph Writing for Kids because it offers outstanding support and structure with all things writing paragraphs. 

The tips for introductory and closing sentences have specifically been tremendously helpful.

I also have a post comparing the top homeschool writing curriculums if you need more than just some extra support from a supplement. 

Bonus Reluctant Writer Tip: Read Exciting Books Aloud On A Regular Basis

open book with sparkles coming out of it

Your young writers may love digging into comic books or graphic novels – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But reading classic books, adventure books, thrilling books – can really open up a whole new world to them!

As they fall in love with the trip that books take them on, they may be inspired by the author’s writing style, pick up new vocabulary words, and tap into creativity they didn’t know they had!

I tell parents that if you try reading to your kids and it “doesn’t work,” keep trying! 

Let your young ones pick out picture books in the library or specifically look for these classics

We also love reading books that were made into movies!

This list of 4th Grade Read Aloud is also wonderful for a wide spread of ages.

Recap Motivating A Reluctant Writer

How To Motivate Reluctant Writer Pin

As you are shepherding your homeschooled kids through the various writing skills, I hope you remember this most important thing.

Helping your kids produce good writing is not your first goal.

Putting in the effort and time to help them love writing should be your first goal. If you achieve that – or come close to it – the rest will follow. 

I hope you take the above fun ideas and apply the ones that make the most sense for your homeschool. 

Remember that elementary students should not be writing at your adult level, so don’t over criticize. 

Inspire them with fun prompts, wonderful books, engaging writing groups, and maybe even a typing course.

They will be proficient writers ready for high school before you know it!

If your student has some argumentative essays to write, consider these 35 Thought Provoking Persuasive Writing Prompts!

If you also have a reluctant reader on your hands, check out the tricky way we overcame that issue too!

What are your tried and true ways to get kids writing? Share them in the comments below! 

Read Next:

Are you struggling with a reluctant reader? I have been there! Let me share the simple tips that helped my kid fall in love with reading AND jump ahead multiple reading levels!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *