Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Every middle school and high school teacher should go out and buy Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook RIGHT NOW.  For years I have been looking for the “Ralph Fletcher” books for my middle schoolers.  I have used Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You for years but it seems that many of the primary teachers also use it, so I struggle to make it relevant to my middle schoolers. Well, my problem has been solved. I can not wait to share Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook with my 6th graders!  Potter and Mazer have put together a fantastic guide to the craft of writing that doesn’t actually feel like a guide.  There is no textbook-feel to this book.  Instead, it feels like two friends sitting down over coffee and spilling secrets.

Throughout the book, I found myself wanting to stop reading and try out some of the ideas and suggestions.  This isn’t a book that teaches grammar and conventions.  Instead, it teaches the nitty-gritty of writing, like how to actually sit down and get words on paper.  Each chapter is filled with practical advice and “dares” that push the reader to sit down and start writing.  At the same time, there is tons of practical advice.  I found myself learning things as I read without feeling like I was being hit over the head with boring writing talk.  In other words, if it worked on me, it will be awesome for my 6th graders.

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook is an inspiring book that is perfect for aspiring writers of all ages.  I would hand this to middle schoolers, high schoolers, and their teachers.  I wouldn’t hesitate to hand it to adults looking for a little inspiration, too.  And make sure you check out thecompanion website.  It’s full of fun ideas and extensions of the book!

*ARC courtesy of the authors

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