Around this time of year, the teachers I work with and I begin to make plans for next year. We set publishing dates, we plan our curriculum calendars, we even start pulling together mentor texts, and binders full of materials for next year’s units of study.
But we ALSO start planning for our own writing. The end of the year is when we reflect on not only how our teaching went this year, but also on our own writing.
Here are a few questions that might help you reflect on your writing life:
1. How often do you write? What would help you to write more?
2. Where and when, specifically, do you usually write? How’s that working out for you?
3. What kinds of writing do you do most? What kinds of writing do you wish you practiced more often?
4. How often do you reread and/or revise old pieces of writing? Do you make big revisions, or do you just “tweak” your original draft?
5. What is getting in the way of your writing? What do you need help with?
6. What will you write next? What are your goals for yourself as a writer?
When you set goals for yourself, they might be big, huge, long-term goals: I will write the great American Novel! Or they might be smaller, more attainable goals: I will remember to send birthday cards and thank you notes every month this year.
Whatever your goals might be, it’s important to name what your plan will be. Step-by-step, how will you work on your goal? Do you need to set up a calendar, so that you can give yourself due dates, or schedule reminders on your smartphone? Will you go online and seek out a writing critique group or a partner to keep you going and give you feedback? Will you take a class, or find an online “writing camp” or a weekly challenge (like our very own Slice of Life Challenge on Tuesdays), to give you some structure and a community to write with?
For a little inspiration, here are some examples of summer writing goals that some of my colleagues recently came up with:
1. Keep a journal. Write something, even just a few sentences every day.
2. Write down stories about your children or grandchildren to give as a gift one day when they are older.
3. Participate in the Slice of Life Story Challenge, or other online writing challenges.
4. Write to your students (incoming or outgoing, or both!). Set a goal to send a certain number of notes/postcards per week.
6. Make yourself a summer writing bucket list! Not sure what that looks like? Here’s mine!
Steven King has said, “Butt glue is glueing your butt to the chair in front of the computer and not getting up until you’ve written something.”
It’s true. Glue your butt to the chair, every day, or at least once a week, and you will not only become a better writer–you’ll become a better teacher of writing.