I have a student who is a super-resistant writer. He's also a very proficient passive-aggressive excelling at blaming everyone else for his shortcomings. I also know from reading the little writing he does and talking to him that he loves playing football. Today, as the students were working on their gifts of writing which is usually a very high-interest assignment, I could see he was struggling, so I asked him to sit near me.
It seemed to me that he had everything he needed to produce a workable first draft-- plenty of models and information about the person he was writing for-- and yet he professed to be stuck. I gave him some advice on how to start and he composed a few lines and then turned to me, stymied again. "Alfonso," I said, "what would you do if you were on the line in football and some guy was blocking you? Would you give up?"
"No," he answered.
I shrugged. "Would you keep on pushing forward?"
"No," he said.
I looked expectantly at him. "Then what?" I asked.
"I'd find a way around him," he told me.
"Exactly," I said. "That's how it is with almost everything. If you can't do it one way, you have to look for another way, no matter how hard it is. You've got to get it done, man."
He nodded seriously. "Do you know what I mean?" I asked.
"Not really," he said.