On Saturday, February 6th, I facilitated a workshop for the Long Island Writing Project on blogging to build a writing habit. My hope was to inspire more educators to give the March Slice of Life Story Challenge a go this year by jumping into the world of blogging, as I did in 2015. Preparing for the workshop, I took a walk down memory lane and explored my writing from my first March SOLSC. Next, I revisited posts from 2016 through the strangest March ever in 2020.
Having this collection of writing is a treasure.
It is like time traveling and remembering what I was thinking and feeling at different moments in time. When I began blogging, my daughter was turning 2 and my son was 4. Now they are almost 8 and 10 and life has twisted and turned during those years. Professionally, I’ve gone through highs and lows as the years have gone by. Rereading my posts, I see patterns in my life and thinking. I see themes emerge about what matters to me- as a teacher, as a mom, as a woman.
One post I wrote in 2015 captures how daily blogging helped me live more like a writer in the world, finding ideas in many different places. I was reminded how writing begets writing- the more I make time to write, the more I have to write about.
During the workshop, we spoke about how audience and community make blogging more motivating than simply journaling for yourself. While both types of writing are valuable and meaningful, for me, blogging is more motivating because I am sharing with an audience who can give me feedback. I find more motivation to write when I know my writing will be read by others. A writer’s notebooks is the perfect place to catch snippets of ideas I want to remember and then turn those ideas into blog posts that will be read by others.
But what audience do you share your work with? Community comes into play here. In my workshop, I spoke about the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life community. How it is such a caring community of gifted writers who share pieces of their personal and professional lives. How reading the blog posts of other educators makes me a better writer myself (so many craft moves others use that I cam emulate) and a better teacher and person. I feel so proud to be part of this community and it felt good to encourage other educators at my workshop to connect with the Slice of Life writer and educators.
During the workshop, we spoke about the power of mentors. A few years ago, I wrote a post that shared a padlet of mentor blot posts. I updated it and shared this one with my workshop participants yesterday.
One of the workshop participants had an interesting observation. She said that reading the post and then the comments added to her overall understanding of the post and deepened her thinking about the post. I hadn’t thought about comments as part of the whole reading experience but when she put it that way, it made so much sense that other readers thoughts on the post would also help shape another reader’s thinking. It made me realize how valuable comments are- for feedback for the writer and for creating a type of conversation that might spark new thoughts for future readers.
Towards the end of the workshop, participants took some time to think about what they would name their blog and why, the audiences they might write for and the topics they could choose. Heidi Atlas, who is another one of the co-director of the Long Island Writing Project and also a Slicer who blogs in March, suggested thinking of your Writing Territories, as described by Nancie Atwell. (I wrote a post about creating a map of your Writing Territories which could be an interesting way to mine your life for some writing material!)
If you’ve been thinking about joining the March 2021 SOLSC, I hope you do! Stacey and Betsy hosted a Facebook Live event to answer questions, along with a group of dedicated and talented Slicers. Be sure to fill out the Participant Information Form to officially register, which makes you eligible for some fantastic prizes! (Prizes will be revealed this Wednesday, so stay tuned!) I’ve always bought myself something at the end of the March SOLSC as a celebration of my commitment and perseverance to write each day, but the truth is the rewards are many and go beyond any material object. When I’ve written to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, or to honor my grandmother, or to capture a moment in time with my family, or navigating teaching during a pandemic, my writing is there for me. It’s evidence of the life I am living and moments that mattered. It can be so hard to carve out the time, but like everything worth doing, blogging is worth the effort. Being a blogger has helped me to be a writer and live life more awake. I wish this for you, too.