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Slippery Things: The Process Is Writing

Author Spotlight
Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a prize package of books and a video chat with Jeff Anderson.

Life is full of things we try to grasp onto—happiness, peace, success, and long uninterrupted chunks of writing time. But all these things are fleeting and slip through your fingers like a waterfall of emails flooding my inbox. And all these gifts come and go like deep sadness, anxiety, failure. I’m happy these are fleeting.

Being a writer is a slippery thing.

The trick is, there is nothing to grasp on to or let pass. There is only writing. Writing when you want to, when you don’t want to. Yes, you can take a walk or take an afternoon off.

But don’t put it off too long. Putting off kills momentum. Putting off stops us from finishing. And what is not finished goes on a shameful stack of almosts or might-be-somedays.

But today I write. That’s my process.

I don’t talk about what I want to write. I do it. There is no success level I will reach that will satisfy the little boy who never felt like enough. Not smart enough. Not coordinated enough. Not loveable enough. That hole cannot be filled by slippery things like praise or blessings of my work.

For me to be a success, I have to write. I can’t spend my time or energy investigating what others think of my writing. I must write.

And it’s a slippery thing being a writer. Instead of reading about or spending energy trying to please the right people. Write. Writing stays. Writing lives on beyond how many stars so-and-so gave your heart and soul.

Writing is a slippery thing, If you are writing, if you are revising, if you are editing, if you are talking to the real children you write your children’s books for, then you are winning. A smile of the child that stays, that holds, that doesn’t slip away.

When teachers share a joy you sparked, that’s more than stars. That’s breath. That’s life. That makes a difference.

When I heard, “Write for yourself, not other people,” I was perplexed. But now I get it.

If you write what is true to you, it will be true to someone. Probably not everyone, but when you write, when your words flash across a screen, you win. You win against the voices in your head. These days everyone loves giving or not giving stars to every thing, every experience, every creation.

I write for children. I write for adults. I write what is true to me. Not for stars. Not for sales. But connection. I do not write to impress, but to express. There is only one way. Write. Revise. Write. Revise. Edit. And submit. Write again.

But it’s a slippery thing.

Writing.

Anderson_Jeff_PhotoFind Jeff Anderson on Twitter @writeguyjeff or the web at writeguy.net. View videos of Jeff teaching and book trailers for his middle-grade humor Zack Delacruz series Just My Luck and Me and My Big Mouth. Book 3 Upstaged will be out in October 2018. His latest book for teachers is Patterns of Power: Inviting Young Writers into the Conventions of Language, Grades 1-5. He lives in San Antonio, Texas with Terry, Carl, and Paisley.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION (from Stacey):

  • This giveaway is for a 20-minute Zoom session with Jeff, a copy of Zack Delacruz Me and My Big Mouth, and for a copy of Patterns of Power. Many thanks to Jeff Anderson, Sterling Publishing, and Stenhouse Publishers,  respectively, for donating these prizes (one winner receives all three prizes).
  • For a chance to win this prize package, please leave a comment about this post by Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Wednesday, June 6th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)U.S. mailing addresses only for the book.
  • If you are the winners of this print or the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – JEFF ANDERSON. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are now closed.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this blog post.
I used a random number generator andJanie Rodriguez’s commenter number came up so she won this giveaway.

Zack Delacruz Cover Image

PatternsofPowerCover

49 thoughts on “Slippery Things: The Process Is Writing Leave a comment

  1. This post had so many beautiful, resonating lines that will stay with me for a while. I may lift Jeff’s line, “being a writer is a slippery thing” for my notebook writing today. Although I mostly work with the big kids (high school students), Jeff Anderson’s work is amazing, and I am a better teacher for reading and trying out so many of his ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh! What a prize package! Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, Jeff Anderson, and Stenhouse and Sterling Publishers! I’ve been a fan for many years, and my students can’t wait to see what happens with Zack Delacruz and his friends next! Our middle school teachers want more Pattens of Power for middle schoolers, too! Thanks again!

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  3. So many things here resonate with me, especially “If you write what is true to you, it will be true to someone.” Yes. There’ve been things I needed and wanted to write, and I don’t always know why. I think, well, this is meaningful to me, but I don’t think it will matter very much to others … yet, once on the blog, these are the pieces that people respond to most. Fascinating.

    Stretch. Take risks. Stay faithful to the writing. Put it out there, but above all, WRITE.

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  4. My school year just ended as I begin to think about summer writing plans. This post not only reminds me that I need to write for myself, but also that I just need to write!

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  5. I love Jeff’s passion for writing what feels right to him. This is what our children need to hear over and over. We are so caught up in writing for specific assignments or tests that our students are losing the passion to write. They aren’t allowed to write what is “true” to them. Thank you for the reminder of why we write!

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  6. Writing IS winning! And a joy of teaching is bringing opportunities to students to know and feel the need to write and to express. I learn so much about other writers (students, fellow teachers) and witness the connections that grow as we write and share. For me, the slipperiness is part of what keeps me writing.

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  7. “I can’t spend my time or energy investigating what others think of my writing. I must write.” Oh, how I wish you could share this wisdom with my daughter! Your writing definitely connects – with children and educators. Thank you for putting your heart out there.

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  8. I love the idea of writing for the process, for the pure sake of writing. I also love this idea, “If you write what is true to you, it will be true to someone.” So powerful.

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  9. As I end the school year and think about my summer writing plans, I needed to read this post. It’s like a kick in the pants to Just. Do. It. but the kick is soft and gentle and means that maybe I’ll inspire others, but maybe I won’t, but I should write anyway. Thanks!

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  10. May we all slide into a writerly life, and inspire young minds to do the same! Thanks for all you do to inspire the young and old!

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  11. Writing for self, such a hard lesson for all writers to grasp. Being true to yourself as a writer brings others into your writing. I love that this is what you believe. Thank for sharing your passion – it’s inspiring!

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  12. Writing for self, such a hard lesson for all writers to grasp. Being true to yourself as a writer brings others into your writing. I love that this is what you believe. Thank for sharing your passion – it’s inspiring!

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  13. Jeff you are my hero!! Writing is a slippery thing for adults and for students. It’s not easy but the more you do i,t the easier it becomes. Students need to hear that it’s difficult process for all even teachers. They think it’s suppose to be an easy process and that only they struggle. They need to know it’s okay, to stop and think, and process. They need to know what it feels to be a writer. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, sometimes it is slippery.

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  14. Writing for kids means talking to kids and being with kids. I like that you said that. Same for our kids – they need to be involved with their audience to write from the heart to the heart of the reader.

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