I was rereading A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You for pearls of wisdom to lend to one of the reluctant writers in my classroom this evening. Here are some of those pearls that I dug out of Ralph Fletcher’s book that bear repeating. (If you don’t have this book, then run out and buy it tomorrow! It’s fantastic!)
You can train yourself to notice the details around you. Use all your senses — the smell of your grandmother’s kitchen, the funny faces your big sister makes while putting on her makeup, the way your cat’s shadow looks different in the early morning than it does at noon, the difference between how your dad’s cheeks feels from morning to night (27).
Learn to listen wherever you go. Your notebook is the perfect place to record the funny or disturbing things you overheard on the playground, the words spoken by a tired mother at the mall, or the complaints of a first grader who doesn’t want to go to school. Later, when you reread your notebook looking for writing ideas, you’ll find this dialogue invaluable (65).
Exploring a memory includes looking into not only what happened but also how it affected you then, and how it affects you now (89).
…The reasons for collecting sayings like this is purely selfish. Writing can be hard. You will want these words of encouragement nearby to help you through those days when the writing isn’t going well (113)…
I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).
I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.