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My Ah-ha Writing Class


I’ve made my share of confessions here on this blog. I wrote about my struggle to keep a notebook here and here.

There’s more.

Now that school is in full swing, making time to write as often as I should, is hard. I write a lot, but not every day. I have two ideas that are begging for my attention, two ideas I’d like to pursue and see how far I can take them. But, until I buckle down and write daily, these seeds will not develop.

And so, last Saturday afternoon I treated myself to a writing class. My hope was to gain writing energy from the class. What I didn’t anticipate, was that putting myself in the role of student would energize and enlighten my thinking about teaching writers.

The class began with each of us sharing about our writing lives and our writing challenges. I spoke about notebook struggles, and seeds that are rolling around my brain, but going nowhere. My rambling was full of apologies and self doubt, but as soon as I finished, a classmate looked at me, and then at the group, and said, “I think she is a writer.”

I had my first ah-ha moment right then.

Saying  “You are a writer,” is impactful. It communicates belief and confidence.

My second ah-ha moment happened when the instructor spoke about notebook keeping, blogging, and drafting on the computer. “Do what works for you,” she said. “The only wrong way is not to write at all.”

Keep in mind that writers are individuals, and what works for one may not work for another. Make it a priority to help each writer discover the conditions that work best for him/her.

Regarding notebooks, our instructor encouraged us to choose inexpensive, portable notebooks, so that we feel free to write on just one side of the page, and not obligated to fill a page completely before beginning a new page. Portable is essential for me. If the notebook isn’t with me, I often “lose” an idea by the time I’ve located the notebook.

I’ve wondered about how or if I should organize my notebook. Sometimes I’ve written a quote, or an idea in a random spot in the notebook and had a hard time finding it later. Our teacher encouraged us to use small, durable sticky note flags to mark different kinds of entries. Simple. Brilliant. She showed us her notebooks  with red flags marking seeds for future pieces, blue flags for quotes, yellow for lists, and green for ideas. She told us to keep a stash of each color of sticky note flag on the last page of our notebooks. Why hadn’t I thought of that?

Learn from other writers. Make sure the materials and methods support, and don’t complicate the writing habit. Keep it easy.

The class reminded me that what I need and what my students need is much the same. The more I write, and take time to reflect on my writing life, the more I learn about how to support young writers.

Spending time in the presence of writers helps my writing energy. Being a student helps me as a teacher.

6 thoughts on “My Ah-ha Writing Class Leave a comment

  1. I am not a teacher but run my own small business specifically so that I can finish at 3 p.m. and run my two girls to their many and varied clubs. (I do a story games hour in schools though that has left me addicted to hearing children giggle)
    I have an old horse to look after as well as two cats a hamster and have an obsession with cooking good food for the kids so when it comes to time pressure I entirely understand.
    I wrote ‘The Bucket’ for my youngest (10 years old now) in bursts of 20 minute periods snatched between picking up my wife from the station and cooking for everyone.
    I honestly believe though that writing is the key (I know that sounds dim!) because then you have something to build upon destroy or correct until you have the peace of mind knowing that the writing is complete.


  2. Lots of great ah-ha moments in here. It’s true, you’re only not a writer if you’re not writing. I like the idea of the coloured sticky notes. Like you, I wonder why I hadn’t thought of it myself. Thanks. 🙂


  3. I can see why the class was an a-ha moment for you. That’s what this blog post is for me. Thanks for all the simple, practical tips that make perfect sense now that I read them.


  4. I feel your pain as a writer who is also a teacher. Yes, it took me a long time to say. “I am a writer.” I just finished a three week writer’s group about memoir at a library. Meeting with other writers was a kick start to getting back into writing. Even though I’m exhausted from teaching all day and then going to a group, it reminded me of a time I was successful in writing last fall. Every night 7-9! That’s my goal. I hope you can find a time in your past to boost you forward. But, know that other teachers who are also writers are struggling right along with you.


  5. I so appreciate your honesty and humble share of all you learned during your writing class. It helps to remember that there is no right way but just write!


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