The Distance between Voice & Mechanics by Julie Bogart

Julie Bogart, The Distance Between Voice and Mechanics in Writing - 2018 Secular Homeschool Convention

Voice and Mechanics

by Julie Bogart, creator of Brave Writer. Is it possible to nurture your child’s writing voice without worrying about the mechanics of writing? Will that foster a carelessness in children’s writing habits? Shouldn’t kids learn to care about how they spell, how they punctuate, how they construct their sentences and paragraphs? Isn’t attentiveness to the form as important as attentiveness to the content?

It’s true that meticulous care about mechanics is a final step in every writing process. When high school students would turn in papers to me, I always told them that they should make sure their work is error free. They have spell-check, parents, friends – all who can lend support to finding spelling errors, missed punctuation and typos. The presentation of the final paper is a psychologically important part of grading a paper, in fact. A teacher, parent, or professor is put at ease when the writing is without error. The mechanical perfection of the paper renders the form invisible and frees the reader to focus exclusively on content. What a joy that is! So, yes, mechanics matter a lot in writing and there’s nothing at all wrong with expecting a high standard in the final product.

On the other hand, there is a peculiar challenge in writing. To find one’s meaning, to explore and excavate one’s ideas requires a letting go of the wheel. It’s hard to focus on the end marks and spellings when your inner eye is trained on an idea and where it is going. For your kids, who are even less skilled as writers, it’s even harder for them to pat their stomachs and rub their heads simultaneously. They haven’t got years of writing and reading under their belts. The conventions of punctuation aren’t automatic for them. To write “correctly” requires effort and attentiveness. If they focus on how to put it on paper, they lose touch with what they want to say.

The quickest way to kill a writer’s inspiration is to ask him or her to think about how to write before the writer has thought about what to write. Start with the ideas, images, thoughts, and fantasies. Later, once all that mess is out there, it’s possible to shift gears and give full attention to editing. In fact, it’s surprisingly satisfying to clean up the mess of creativity once it is on paper. Editing is relaxing in the way that mowing the lawn or ironing a wrinkled shirt is. You see progress instantly!

So, save mechanics and instruction in how to execute them for copywork and dictation. In the meantime, while you are growing a young writer, give full attention to what that writer wants to say and how he or she wants to say it. Mess with meanings, play with words, wriggle around in disorder and creativity. Then, once the words are all over the page in their glorious chaotic sense, impose a little order by editing for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

That’s the best (and I daresay, only) way to cultivate writing voice while giving some attention to the mechanics of writing.

Julie Bogart homeschooled her five children for seventeen years. Now she runs Brave Writer, the online writing and language arts program for families.

Dyslexia and Dysgraphia with Julie Bogart

Dyslexia and Dysgraphia, Julie Bogart, Secular Homeschool Convention

The Magic of a Language-Rich Lifestyle for Kids with Dyslexia & Dysgraphia

Children who struggle with the mechanics of written language because of dyslexia and dysgraphia do not need to be barred from the thrill of authorship—the sense of themselves as writers! Today’s technological landscape makes it possible in brand new ways to empower our kids to be the writers they deserve to be! This session will offer practical tips and ideas for how to bring writing to life for kids who struggle with reading and handwriting.

secular homeschool conference School Choice Week 2018: The Magic of a Language Rich Lifestyle for Kids with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

Julie’s Bio

I have five kids (now adults) and homeschooled them for seventeen years. My professional writing credentials include ghostwriting, freelance writing, editing books, operating as the senior editor for a quarterly industry publication, and writing a weekly column for United Press International.

I’ve written Brave Writer’s Home Study Courses and have written or supervised the writing of all other Brave Writer products.

My homeschool credentials include ten years teaching theater and writing for our Cincinnati homeschool co-op of 300 students, four year membership in the steering committee of a local Charlotte Mason organization, speaking in the US, UK, and Canada at homeschool conventions, and hosting Brave Writer events all over the United States. Brave Writer opened its doors in January 2000 and has taught tens of thousands of families from all around the globe. Today, I live in Cincinnati, Ohio where I enjoy running, PG Tips tea every morning, and kayaking.

You can connect with me through my Website. Follow me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.


Julie Bogart of Brave Writer discusses the magic of a language-rich lifestyle for children with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Presented as part of 2018 School Choice Week at

Julie Bogart of Brave Writer discusses the magic of a language-rich lifestyle for children with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Presented as part of 2018 School Choice Week at