Saturday, March 8, 2014

Today I love writing - Slice of Life 2014 Day 8

Today I love writing. do YOU write?  I mean...not..."Do you use a notebook or a keyboard?"


HOW do YOU write?  

I am always curious about how other people get this job done.  I had a tough encounter with a student who got caught plagiarizing this past week, and one of the comments made in the conversation that ensued was, "I just didn't think my writing was any good."  

How do any of us know our writing is any good?  

How do we even get the first word down?  

The Words of the Week in our classroom this week were a quote that I blatantly borrowed from the folks here at Two Writing Teachers, who are sponsoring this 31 Day Slice of Life Writing Challenge, as I was preparing a few weeks ago.  Little did I know how much impact they would have this week.  

"This is how you do it: 
you sit down at the keyboard 
and you put one word 
after another 
until it's done. 
It's that easy, 
and that hard." 
~Neil Gaiman

I told my student that I understood the feelings of inadequacy.  I have been at this EVERY day writing thing for over 600 days now, and yeah...sometimes it is tough.  Sometimes what you write comes out, well, pretty rough.  But some days treasure comes out as well.  And until you sit down and write it, you don't know which it will be.  And sometimes even AFTER you write it you don't know what it IS, until you get brave enough to show it to someone...someone you trust.  That's one of the biggest things this Challenge has taught me...that when I am brave enough to show someone else my work, I can find out not only what I am doing well, but what I may need to work on.  This is a safe community and the folks here are ones that I trust...even though I don't know them.  The fact that they are here and they are writing AND they are being brave enough to share their work as well puts them right in the same boat as me!  Fellows in a ship! 

So, back to my original question...HOW do you write?  I know others are talking about this today, because one of the advantages of coming late to the party this evening is seeing what others are "wearing".  

For some, it is a quiet, all alone time that they have intentionally carved out and protected.

For others, perhaps it is something completely different.

For me, I write in my head all day long.  It starts in the shower in the morning...sometimes even before as my feet hit the floor and my toes search for my slippers in the dark.  The thoughts begin to swirl and sift and sort themselves out.  Thank goodness for that process, because some pretty CRAZY ideas sift through on some days!  

By the evening, or sometimes sooner, depending on how the Spirit moves on a particular day, I have percolated and stewed on whatever thought has bubbled to the top and I am ready to sit down at the keyboard.  

I wish I could say I was one of those people who have a wonderfully organized Writer's Notebook full of lists of story ideas and sketches of thoughts.  

I am not.  Nor will I ever be a wonderfully organized anything.  

But, when I do finally hit the keyboard...such as fingers fairly fly...then they hover...I twist and turn in my chair...I stretch my arms over my head...I call The Man for an outside point of view...then I make him go away...then I call him back, poor fellow, because I covet his "Well done" more than he will ever know...and eventually...I get brave...and then read it one more time just to be sure....and then I read it one MORE time because I am incredibly prideful when it comes to typos...and then...finally....I hold my breath...literally...and hit that dreaded orange "publish" button. 

But I am very curious about how it works for other people.  I sincerely hope that this post generates some conversation....from my students too if they are reading after this long of a ramble...because I really would love to know...

How do you write?


  1. Like you, I write all day long...just in my mind, and sometimes I even send myself email with snippets of ideas that jump into existence when I am in a meeting, or in a classroom, or walking down the hall. When I finally sit down, with my Pandora instrumental channel soothing me, it all comes out -- sometimes pretty, usually not. I revise, revise, and then revise some more. But the rhythm comes, I grab a hold, and ride along. It's fun. You already know this, though :).

    1. Oh wow! It's Pandora for me as well! Great minds...
      And I forgot to mention that I am notorious for writing snippets of reminders on my hand...only to not be able to decipher them at times! Yes on emailing myself as well! But doesn't it feel so much better once it's all out?

  2. I've just started writing, so far, I have a notebook that I carry with me everywhere. This helps me keep track of myself during the days as I can be in five different buildings and 20 classrooms. I've always written interesting things in the margins. Now I am just learning how to sit down and put one word after the's hard. I haven't revised other than to just make sure no typing erros. I feel a little to close a little to vulnerable. I get giddy with all the positive comments.

  3. The comments do make a difference don't they? That was what made me so sad about this student taking someone else's work. I knew that the student REALLY wanted some nice comments. We all need that pat on the back! Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

  4. Trish,
    I loved your post today. Well, I love your posts every day, but today's topic is one near and dear to my heart. How do I write? Well, honestly, I'm not sure it's ever the same. I keep lists on my phone, voice record pieces while I am driving, add ideas to my notebooks, and stew about a topic across days and weeks and years.

    When I went to a retreat this summer, Brenda Power, editor for Choice Literacy, was talking to us about the importance of finding little pieces of time to write. I've always been one to think I need a chunk of time to write, but then Ruth Ayres came to Columbus. She gave us 5 minutes to write about a topic. I couldn't believe what could be produced in 5 minutes. I realized I didn't always need big chunks of time. I just needed to write, as Brenda suggested, when the idea was fresh before the energy was lost.

    600 days!?!?!? You are my hero!

    1. Thanks friend! Yes, lots can be accomplished in small bits of time. Thanks for the reminder. ..last year I did "warm ups" with my students that required them to write quickly. I need to get back to that habit! (And remember that 600 days is more of an addiction/obsession...not entirely sure it's always healthy! But, yeah, I have learned a lot from it!)

  5. Your words ring true. I want to share this post with my students. It's important for our kids to know that writing is hard, regardless of how long you've been at it. I'm a lot like b. above. I am writing in my head all day long. I'm not organized about it at all. When I finally sit down to write, it all comes tumbling out. Thanks for sharing your thoughts tonight. I bet there will be lots of conversation.

    1. "I want to share this post with my students. It's important for our kids to know that writing is hard, regardless of how long you've been at it."

      Thank you...highest praise ever that someone would share my words with their students. I will be making my student aware that a mistake CAN have a positive result! (But that doesn't mean you should repeat it!) ;)

  6. Trish,
    Cathy tweeted your post to me after a conversation we shared just the other day. When you asked how I write I answer- Bravely and with reckless passion.
    I was even inspired to write my day 8 SOL from your post! THANKS!

    1. Thanks Deb! Not sure if I've ever been tweeted before...I am honored! More honored that something I said inspired you to slice! Can't wait to read it! Love that you write with bravery and reckless passion! Isn't that how we should do everything?

  7. Good question to ask. I have found that sometimes I plan, practice in my head and later write and revise, on other times I go with the flow and let the words just pour out. I love when I have uninterrupted writing time, but I have learned to write in short pockets of time when necessary. I have written lists, I am good at lists, but I don't stick to them. Knowing that there is not one way I write has reduced my writing stress and brought more fun to writing.
    I believe Tara's post was also inspired by your question.

  8. Yes, that's what I do and I didn't realize it until you said it. I practice in my head. I run through it as a musician would run through a musical piece, as an athlete would run through a race or a turn at bat, as a speaker would run through a speech. Thanks for the perspective!
    Trish, who is good at making lists of things she's already done just so she can cross them off!

  9. You've started a great conversation, Trish. Thank you!

    As for how I write, I have to write in my head all day long too. I don't carry a notebook like I used to merely for the fact that I have a kiddo by my side all of the time. However, I use my phone as a virtual writer's notebook thanks to Evernote and Instagram. I jot blog post ideas in Evernote whenever they come to mind. Stuff that's too good not to capture right then and there. I use Instagram like this:

    I sit down to write in the late afternoons and after my daughter goes to bed at night. Neither time is really good for me. I'm a 5 a.m. writer, but I'm too tired to get up that early to write these days. (Exercise has been happening in the wee hours of the morning.)

  10. Thanks, Stacey! I love starting a great conversation! I'm glad I'm not the only one writing in my head! And your writing probably will change as your little one grows. Mine certainly has! Kudos to you for sticking with it WITH a little one. I didn't get back to writing until just recently...after mine were much older. Mornings don't work for me either, other than an every so often prayer journal entry. Trying to exercise also, but that's hard these days too!
    Thanks for this challenge!

  11. Awesome! I like your poems makes my day.

    1. Thanks BD! Your blogs make my day too!