Does anyone actually hate writing?
“I hate writing.”
Usually that’s the opening phrase used during sessions with difficult students. Right away, they mention their dislike for writing, as though the simple statement will get them out of having to go through with the session. They don’t realize that they can say they hate writing all they want, but that doesn't change the fact that they’re still scheduled for a session which means regardless of their feelings, the session will continue. Difficult students may come in with that attitude in place, but there are ways to change that attitude. It’s good to remember to not let that comment get in the way of the session, especially if it’s their opening line. I take that information in and let them know that they don’t have to love it, but it’s not as bad as they think it is.
One of the strategies I've used with these students is to avoid going straight into having them write. We still talk about their paper and any questions or comments they had about the assignment. However, they don’t feel like they have to write throughout the session, which is what a lot of students think sessions are going to be like the first time they come in. When students feel like writing is required or forced on them, they back away from it and have that negative attitude toward it.
I've found that most of the time after the session goes on for a few minutes, the student feels the need to write down some ideas we have discussed, different ways to approach one of their points, or whatever it is we talk about. This doesn't feel like “writing” to them, and typically when they do this, they are excited about their paper and want to go into it more. I've done this numerous times when I had difficult students, and normally it works.Their attitude switches from negative to a more positive one. Allowing them to write when they want gets away from that “forced” feeling, which might be what caused them to have the aversion to writing in the first place.
Throughout my experiences with difficult students, sometimes the reasoning behind their defensiveness and why they hate writing is because there’s a fear that by coming in here, someone will rip apart their paper that they spend so much time on. They use that line as a way of protecting themselves from the blow they feel is coming once the person reads their essay. It’s more about their insecurities as a writer than it is about actually hating writing.
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