Writing Assignment: Write Your ABCs

by Randy Murray on January 17, 2014

One of the first things that most of us learned in the process of becoming writers was how to write our ABCs. They’re the building blocks of our language, but they’re also part of the fundamental experience of the act of writing. We are making shapes and these shapes have meaning. When we master these shapes we can begin telling stories.

Learning to write by hand takes concentration. When we take a pencil or some marking device and form the shapes of the letters it is almost a type of magic. It is like evoking a magic spell (and there’s a reason the word “spell” is used for both—the magic comes from getting the words exactly right). For children, learning their ABCs is a major learning milestone.

It’s likely that you have strong memories of that milestone yourself, although they may be buried. Let’s go looking for those memories and see what we can do with them.

For today’s assignment, take a piece of paper and a marker and carefully write out your ABCs. You may do it as many times as you want, perfecting how you write them. Write them out in both upper and lower case. I’d recommend printing them for this exercise. You can write cursive another time.

When you have filled the sheet, stop and review your work. What did this exercise help you to remember? How did you feel writing the letters out this way? What do you see when you look at that page?

And now comes the real assignment: write a short essay based upon what you experienced. Write about what you remember and how it has shaped you. Write about a new focus on these elemental parts of writing. Write from your personal experiences and thoughts, but limit them to what you was inspired by writing your ABCs.

For bonus points, publish your essay on your own site (or wherever you like) and attach a photo of your freshly written ABCs.

Writing Assignment: Write Your ABCs by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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