Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Do I Write?

I recently saw a post asking others how they write, where they get their ideas and inspiration.  I have been thinking a lot about that and I have to say that I stand on the shoulders of other authors.  I have been very blessed to have been a literacy coordinator with the Literacy Collaborative from The Ohio State University.  I had excellent training, but still did not really know how to be a writer.  To tell you the truth, it took me several times to really buy in to the whole teacher writer belief.  I am a firm believer now!  :)  I didn't become a firm believer until I tried it.  I actually wrote and when I did, it's like my lesson plan pen had a mind of it's own.  I no longer had to labor over what to teach next.  I got it!  Writing is a process and when you know the process, you can see so much more clearly what your little writers need, whether they are in kindergarten, or college.
So, how do I write?  During my time as a lit coordinator, I had the GREAT pleasure of meeting and learning from and watching Georgia Heard, Katie Wood Ray, Ralph Fletcher, Lester Laminack, Carl Anderson and Tom Romano.  Each time I had an opportunity, a little seed was planted.  Write...  Write...  Write...  Each time I learned another trick about how to plan your writing.  I learned that everything my teachers taught me wasn't true, with the exception of the conventions and there is freedom even there when you write.
Ralph Fletcher taught me to write what matters.  That got me about three and a half stories (of course about my children and my family).  :)  Then he showed a child how to draw a sketch of the people in his life, the places he had been and the things that he does.  I have done this, and I can get hundreds of stories just from the map I made of my neighborhood.
 Katie Wood Ray emphasized the writer's notebook.  I started one...  then put it in a drawer...  then pulled it out...  I go back to that notebook now and harvest ideas from long ago.
 Lester Laminack is gifted at sharing stories from his own life.  I love listening to him read his books.  I love his craft.  I use his craft in my own writing.
Georgia Heard has to be my all time favorite.  For a long time, I wrote poetry.  I loved her ideas about looking out the window and really looking.  Thinking about things in a different way.
I have also read a TON of professional books.  I am actually a bit of a book hoarder to tell you the truth.  I love to read books by the authors I mentioned above.  I will read anything from the Teachers College at Columbia.  I loooooove Lucy Calkins and Shelley Harwayne!  I have heard both speak and they are so different and yet so very passionate.
My favorite go to methods are without a doubt, sketching people I know.  You can list them if you want to, but the picture does so much more for me.  I write in my head for a long time before I actually get anything down on paper.  My go to place for great thinking is in the shower.  I don't know what it is... the white noise or the quiet... or maybe the lack of interruptions on a good day or early in the morning.
I don't think I will ever stop using the methods that I have been taught.  I almost freeze with the question, "What are you going to write about?".  I have to slow down, relax, breathe...  Then I sketch out my thinking and off I go!  I don't like to revise.  I don't really like having others revise my work either, although I do it because I know that I want children I teach to be open to the input of their audience.  It's waaaaay harder than I thought though!
When I was in he writing project, I had to meet with one of the teachers to go over my piece and to receive feedback.  The whole time she was talking I felt a little oppositional.  I didn't want to change anything.  I had worked so hard....  I did try some different things that she suggested and I left others alone.  It was much better after working with her and I am forever grateful for her gentle touch.  :)
The point is... just write.  It doesn't matter if it's good enough, long enough or entertaining enough.  Each piece allows you to improve.  Each time you write, you think about different perspectives, crafting moves and you become more bold.
I wish you the opportunity for both joy and angst as you write, so that you can really feel what it is like to compose something that is meaningful to you and that it makes you want to share!  :)  Happy writing everyone!  You are NOT alone!  :)


  1. A turn for a turn :-). Last night you read my poem and that led me to read your post. THis week has been a struggle to fit in writing time . . .figure out what to write.
    "I had excellent training but still did not know how to be a writer"-yes! My first experience with Teachers College writing was last year. . Eye opening. What I love about this particular piece here is that you are sharing information in a way that allows your voice to be heard, or maybe because of your voice--I can hear you. Thank you- Good Morning!

  2. You sure have had good training! I've heard such good things about the Literacy Collaborative at OSU. (We looked into moving to Columbus a few years ago. I got so excited since I know there is so much incredible literacy work happening out there. PLUS, I loved the Short North. What a great place to live!)

    1. Oh how I love the short north too! :) I have been in Columbus most of my life. So much has changed that I am having so much fun checking out all of the different places! :)