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On Being a Writer

Our first grade students have been writing Slice of Life Stories all year.  They display their stories on the bulletin board outside their classroom.

Bulletin Board

These pieces are not perfect.  I don’t know, maybe they are not even “good.”  There are many grammar, spelling, punctuation, and convention issues.  Yet, every time I walk past this bulletin board, I smile.  These kids have something to say!

The beach is so fun. You play. You can go eat and through the weird bathroom. You can play with your friends. You can eat.
The beach is so fun. You play. You can go eat and through the weird bathroom. You can play with your friends. You can eat.
Book Fairs are so fun because you can pick any book you want. The Book Fair is my favorite thing about Parent-Teacher conferences. There is so much books to choose. I love so much the books there. There is a lot of books. I love that.
Book Fairs are so fun because you can pick any book you want. The Book Fair is my favorite thing about Parent-Teacher conferences. There is so much books to choose. I love so much the books there. There is a lot of books. I love that.

This past weekend, Donalyn Miller (author of The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild) wrote a blog post about what it means to be a writer, to call yourself a writer.  (Click here to read the post.)  She included this list:

  • If you write, you are a writer.
  • If you don’t write, you are not a writer.
  • If you want to be a writer, you must write.
  • The only writers who struggle with writing are ALL of them.
  • Write about what matters to you and make the rest of us care about it.
  • Anyone who tells you she’s a writer must believe it herself before she can admit it to you.
Donalyn’s list was running through my mind as I stood in the hallway reading the first graders’ Slice of Life Stories.  They are writers because they write.  They write about what matters to them.  They hang their work proudly in the hallway because they believe they are writers.  It took Donalyn Miller (and myself) many decades of life to figure out these important lessons.  These writers are learning these same lessons at the age of six.
 
Please don’t get me wrong, the lessons in conventions and spelling and grammar and punctuation are important, too.  Equally as important though (or perhaps even more so?) are the lessons in having confidence and taking risks and developing the habit of writing.  I cannot imagine how different my own life would have turned out if my first grade teacher had encouraged me to write Slice of Life Stories and to share them with others.  Honestly.  It would have changed the course of my life forever.
 
I hope these young writers take this message to heart and carry it with them always and forever.  They are writers because they write.  They have something to say.
I love my mom because she gives me food and sometimes gives me clothes.  We watch T.V.  She buys clothes.  Then she walks me to school.  My mom packs a snack.  My mom picks me up.
I love my mom because she gives me food and sometimes gives me clothes. We watch T.V. She buys clothes. Then she walks me to school. My mom packs a snack. My mom picks me up.

Dana Murphy View All

Literacy Coach, Reader, Writer

6 thoughts on “On Being a Writer Leave a comment

  1. These sure made me smile! It’s post like these that I think I want to trade in my middle schoolers for first grade again . . . and then I remember what it was like being poked to death, lol 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I have felt the same as you as I walk past those beautiful words displayed so proudly in the hallway. Some I can’t read. Others are very repetitive. Others have many words that clearly tell the story. What they all have in common is the students behind the writing HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. I love it.

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