I’ve been giving quite a bit of attention to my little feathered friend lately, but now I feel it’s time to go back to some basics. My school has been back in session for a little over six weeks now, giving me time to evaluate how my own work writing has affected my ability to teach writing. Last year, I was a Writing Teacher. This year, I’m a writing Teacher. It is a big difference.
Practicing What I Preach
I certainly wrote plenty of papers in college. I write reports for work. I write letters of recommendation. I write exams and worksheets. None of that is the same as sitting in front of a blank screen with a post to get out and no ideas– or pulling up a prompt from The Daily Post and experiencing pure dread as I experience no feeling of affinity for the topic I’ve sworn to write on. I signed up for the WordPress Writing 101 class through Spontaneous Whimsy, and one of their assignments was to focus on the length of the prompt. Since I tend to write long prompt, I took on the challenge of writing a 100 word prompt. I almost gave up several times. In the end, though, I was proud of the account I had written of my first meeting with my husband in Love at First Sight. After completing this, I even realized that I had written a narrative, something else that I struggle with. Now, when I tell my students that they need to just press on with a difficult assignment, I can give them my own example. On one assignment, my first reaction was, “I don’t think so.” I immediately reminded myself that I wouldn’t tolerate that reaction from my students, so I needed to get it together and start writing.” I did, and again, I ended up with something I rather liked in the end.
Another valuable lesson I’ve gained from my own writing is remembering just how much effort goes into writing. I spent over three hours on a 400 word post–just for fun, so the next time I assign a 500 word paper for my students, I will remember that they are beginning writers. I think in the past, I may have been a bit cavalier with my students’ time. My own writing has provided a much-needed reminder that writing is work, even when you love it.
I have also made many wonderful and valuable connections as I write on my various blogs. Yesterday for example, I connected with a professional editor, John Adamus, via his post on author Chuck Wendig’s blog TerribleMinds, which I follow. His discussion of the editing process in Why Editing (by an Editor Who Isn’t You) Matters mirrored what I had told my students in class just that day. I reached out to him to get permission to re-post some of the information for my students on the classroom blog. He and Mr. Wendig both graciously agreed. My students now have access to a different point of view. “Hey, maybe Mrs. Rains isn’t just making all that stuff up after all!”