“Writers use dialogue, inner thinking, and precise details.”
“Writers elaborate and add additional scenes.”
“Writers craft powerful leads and endings.”
“And most importantly, writers WRITE!”
These are the mantras I use to explain writing to my sixth grade language arts classes each day. Maybe if I keep saying it they will eventually get the point, I think to myself.
As my students busily typed on their laptops or put pen to paper in today’s class, I watched as each of their stories unfolded. A month ago this was not the case. Heck, a day ago this wasn’t the case. My students, obedient as they are, could not seem to get their ideas down on a page. Call it writer’s block or the fear of failure, something just was not clicking for them.
Today there was a noticeable shift. Maybe all of the writing we have been doing for the past six weeks is final paying off, I thought to myself.
Then I got to thinking about my own writing habits.
I’ve been “writing” a book for years now. I say, “writing” but what I have been doing mostly is talking about writing. I haven’t put pen to paper, or in my case, fingers to keys, in almost six months. Sure, I’ve blogged here and there. I’ve journaled occasionally. I’ve sent countless emails. I just haven’t really written.
Seeing my students writing furiously today inspired me to do the same. I keep preaching about how writing everyday is going to build their stamina as writers but I refused to see how it was also improving my own.
In starting this writing program with my students, I’ve made a promise to myself to publish a blog once a week. So far I’ve made good on that promise. I’ve taken chances publishing some of my pieces. And in the process, I’ve published some great pieces and some not-so-great pieces. I’ve taken the advice I’ve given my students and I’ve written.
Today that writing paid off. I was able, with ease, to write another scene in my book. I used the same strategies that I’ve been teaching my students–dialogue, inner thinking, precise details–and it totally worked for me. After my furious writing, I was left with a scene I was pretty satisfied with. My dialogue flowed and was realistic. My inner thinking conveyed what the character’s true thoughts were. And my precise details took me back to that exact moment in time, the day I visited Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Maybe it’s the online Shakespeare class I started only last night. Maybe it’s the song, “Moth’s Wings” playing on shuffle every now and again. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the writing I’ve been doing each week that gave me the confidence to go back to my book and begin writing again. Whatever the case may be, it feels good to “write” again.