This fear can be a stumbling block in this activity, but this is a good opportunity to remind them that even an ordinary incident can be retold in an exciting way.
The activity involves making a timeline with points they choose from their lives, and then freewriting about those points to see which might make a useful topic. It allows them some room to explore potential topics before having to commit to one, and thus alleviates some pressure for nervous writers.
Setup for Revealing Moment Exercise
First have students simply draw a line on a piece of paper. (It doesn't get any simpler than this). You may want to do this on the board along with them.
Then have them draw three points on the line, and label them with significant memories. You may want to encourage them to use memories about langauge if you are doing this before the Literacy Essay drafting. They will complain that they have nothing worth putting on the line, that nothing has ever happened to them, so it might be good for you to play along and do your own timeline on the board or overhead. Pick ordinary topics and explain that simple topics are not only easier to write about, but can potentially reveal a great deal about a person.
Once they have chosen three points and moments, have them freewrite for ten minutes about each one. After this, you may want them to share their work with the class, a reading partner, or their group. Have the group/partner come up with a title for each narrative and decide which they would like to hear more about and why. Hopefully, each student will have come up with a workable topic for their essay and learned to focus on points in their lives, rather than the entirety of it.