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Writing Group

My Writing Group: Tammy, Tam, Mary Helen, me, & Ruth (If we add another member, do you think her name should be Mary Helen? 😉

Today after school I get to meet with my writing group. We’ve been meeting for about six months now and it has been a very good thing. It started when I emailed Mary Helen and Ruth asking if they would be interested in being part of a writing group. Ruth co-wrote Building Bridges from Early to Intermediate Literacy (Corwin, 2007), so I figured she may be interested in writing more. Mary Helen knows books like nobody’s business and is superb at cracking open the craft. She also listened to my raw thinking as we were writing Day by Day. There’s a book in her. Then we asked Tammy because she’s written several children’s books and poems but they are sitting in folders, just waiting for an audience. Like the others, she said yes. We met a couple of times and then we invited Tam. Tam and I learned about writing workshop alongside of each other. We taught next door to each other for my first four years. We’ve been sharing our writing with each other for years. Tam retired last May. One of her hopes for retirement is to write more.

I can’t believe how close we’ve become in a handful of meetings.  Writing does that to people, you know? We share stories, laugh until our bellies hurt, read each other’s writing, encourage, nudge, and check-in. It is one of those things that gives me energy. Lots of energy.

It makes me think about the opportunities we can offer our students. I think there is power in meeting with the same people over time.

  • It takes a lot of trust to share your writing with others. When you get to know people over time, you are more likely to share risky writing. When we take risks as writers, the good stuff starts happening.
  • When people get to know our writing, they offer incredible insights. Ruth has been offering feedback on my latest WIP. The kinds of questions she asks leads my thinking and makes my story much stronger.
  • Regular meetings are necessary. We live more than 50 miles apart, so we meet once a month. However, communication is happening consistently between meetings. We’re sending drafts to one another. We’re asking, “Have you been writing?” Earlier this week I called Ruth and said, “Can I tell you a little about Matt?” I felt a little strange to call and have a conversation about a fictional character, but I knew she would understand. Sometimes the characters talk to her too. 😉
  • Other people believe in your projects and want you to succeed.

I’ve never established year long writing groups, however if I had my own classroom, I think I would try it out. I’m finding my writing group inspires, empowers, and pushes me as a writer. These are things I want students to experience too. What about you, are you a part of a writing group?

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Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

12 thoughts on “Writing Group Leave a comment

  1. How amazing your post is about a writing group. Just recently a colleague and I were talking about reading and books and then our strong desires to write our own. We talked about joining a local writing club but couldn’t find anything in our area. So, we decided to make up our own. We invited another teacher on campus and now our club has a whopping 3 members! It’s small and still in it’s baby stages but when we meet we leave feeling inspired, empowered, and encouraged to write more and write through the fears and blocks.

    I have an after school writing club with some 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and recently shared with them about our adult club and how we, their teachers, ALSO GET SCARED to write and get writer’s block and they were shocked and pleased to hear it all. One student even said, “So, teachers still learn from each other even after they go to school?” YES! YES! We’re ALWAYS learning from books, from writing, from friends and even from our students.

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  2. I also spent a summer at a National Writing Project site (Buzzards Bay Writing Project in Massachusetts). I learned the importance of having a small community in which to share and respond to each other’s writing. This firsthand experience with the writing process also helps when talking about writing with students. I just wish I could find the time for more of my own writing!

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  3. This summer I did a week long Summer Institute as part of the New Jersey Writing Project. The week I spent writing and sharing with the people in the group was such an inspiring, motivating experience for me as a writer. I wish I could keep that going all year long since it would force me to find the time to write…something that seems to go by the wayside with piles of papers to grade and lessons to plan. Thanks for reminding me about the value of a writing group.

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  4. I love this idea. Some of my close friends & co-workers have tried this & we have not been successful, family & work got in the way. I think it is time we try this again! Thanks for the reminder & the encouragement!

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  5. This summer I did a week long Summer Institute as part of the New Jersey Writing Project. The week I spent writing ans sharing with the people in the group was such an inspiring, motivating experience for me as a writer. I wish I could keep that going all year long since it would force me to find the time to write…something that seems to go by the wayside with piles of papers to grade and lessons to plan. Thanks for reminding me about the value of a writing group.

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  6. I have never been a part of a regular writing group, and sometimes I think about becoming part of one. I did try once, but it was a larger group at a chain bookstore with so many varied interests and personalities that I was overwhelmed. Sometimes our family writes together, and we have that writing group feeling, very cozy! But someday, I may still try an all grown-up group. Thank you for reminding me of this thought. A.

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  7. Ruth, I cannot tell you how motivating our writing group has been. Our time together does give us energy to write more, but it’s also the accountability. I know I have to write. More importantly, I WANT to write and get feedback. This group has been the best. The collaorative ideas help enrich our writing. I learn so much from each of your writing. 🙂

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  8. The closest I have to a writing group is my
    daughter-in-law. Unfortunately, she has moved to another state, so
    we rarely talk writing any more. But she was a great encouragement
    to me. I think your point about developing trust in a group is so
    important, and something classroom teachers often forget. I know
    once I reached fourth grade, I wouldn’t have trusted my fellow
    classmates with my real inner thoughts and feelings. But in a small
    group of like-minded kids, I might have opened up and shared more
    of my writing.

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  9. The closest thing I had to a writing group was a writing for k-8 teachers a year ago. Since the class was set up for the professor to model aligned to a workshop philosophy, I felt that sense of community of writers. I loved it so much!

    @Katie, I sill have Writing Circles waiting to read. I was glad to see your positive feedback.

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  10. Ruth,

    My teaching partner and I read Writing Circles by Jim Vopat. Although we haven’t been able to implement it in the way he envisions we have been doing it sporadically. I see evidence that I should do it more. My boys especially feed off of this connection with their audience. Although they aren’t really giving each other a lot of critical feedback the mere act of sharing pushes them to write more.

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