one of your students, working on his Martin Luther King, Jr., essays, says he's "not used to thinking this hard." Dr. King would approve, I think.
I'm always amazed at what an intimidating process writing is for so many kids, which is why I repeatedly counsel them to "get it down before you get it right." When we wrote a class rubric together, detailed what an "A" essay should have and do, and so on through an "F" essay, spelling and grammar are always the first thing they think of. That's important, of course, but what about the ideas? Weaning them away from the mechanics over substance is a difficult process, and there is so little time with each kid here to accomplish it.