Living the Life of a Writer

At this point of the school year, your writing workshop is probably in full swing.  You are chugging along through your writing curriculum, and you are probably using checklists and rubrics to assess your young writers’ developing skills.  Today’s post is a reminder to step back and think not only about the discrete writing skills you are teaching, but also about the writing lives of your students.  Consider your own writing life.  How do you work best?

Here are some things I believe to be true about writing:

All writers have a unique writing process.

The way I approach the task of writing is surely not the same way you approach the task of writing.  Some writers have a plan; others wing it.  Some writers draft fast and furiously; other writers revise each word as they go.  Some writers just start typing and marvel at what comes out; others know the end before they even start.  Every writer has a different process, and every writer is correct.  Do our classrooms welcome all types of writers, or are classroom routines biased towards a particular type of writer?  For example, do you require a brainstorming web before each draft?

Writing is hard work.

Writing is difficult.  It is really, really difficult.  Nothing frustrates me like writing.  This is my third attempt today at drafting this post.  I chucked the whole idea twice already… and then came back to it.  I started over, I backspaced and deleted, I logged into Instagram as a distraction.  Being a writer, I know if I stick with it, I will figure it out.  I know writing is hard work, and I trust the process.  Do your students?  Do they know the reward is coming, or do they give up easily and think they are just no good at writing?  Have you overtly and explicitly shared your own struggles with writing?

Writers need a support system.

I have a support system as a writer.  I have my Editor-in-Chief (my husband).  I have the community of Slicers who comment on my writing each week.  I have this amazing team of co-authors at Two Writing Teachers who are always willing to bounce around an idea or offer feedback.  In December, I will be part of a new online writing group which I am really excited about.  I have people in my life who know I am a writer.  They listen, they read my words, they offer feedback and encouragement.  Do our students have a reliable support system?  Do they have multiple options for getting feedback or talking through an idea?

Writers write.

As a writer, I know I need to carve out time each week to write.  I write during my lunch break or after I put my daughters to bed.  I am never done writing.  There is always another Slice of Life Story to write or another blog post deadline approaching.  Do our students have time to write each and every day?  More importantly, do they use that time?  Do they have a revolving door of writing projects that fuels them?  Do they know writing is never done?

I spend a lot of time mulling these ideas over in my head, thinking about how we can infuse lessons and routines into classrooms that will support the hard work of being a writer.  I would love to hear how you support the writing lives of your students – how you give them space and time to live like writers.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.