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Monday, November 25, 2013

Writing - Enjoyable Pastime or Annoying Burden

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I love to write. I'm not very good at it. I ramble a bit and I use too many commas. For example, I love starting sentences with "for example,." I also like to start sentences with "then,." But, the bottom line is, I like to write and I write what words/sentences appear in my head as I'm typing.

So, (there's that comma again) I opened my laptop this morning to work on my book. Actually it's a book I am co-authoring with a wonderful BIE pal - Telannia Norfar.  I opened my Google Drive and opened the doc. But I just didn't feel like writing.

Instead I opened this blog and started typing away. I wasn't (still aren't) sure what I will produce. But I know it will be about writing.  It's kind of like St. Patty's Day in 2009 when I wrote my first post: Happy St. Patty's Day . I created my Blogger account and just created a post from whatever popped into my head. As a matter of fact, I rarely know what I'm going to write before I write. That's because I know that once I start it will all just come together.

There are times that I have a topic that I really want to write about. And there are times when I'd like to write about a topic but I'm worried I'll offend my handful of readers. I'm still living my life as a tight-lipped Yankee with the additional pressure of being a retired military guy and a current teacher. I can't wait until I get to about 62 years old. I want to relax about what I say and what I do. Ironically, with 62 years of leading this life I may not be able to open up then.

I just paused and I have produced 4 paragraphs and this post is rolling along. Why,then, did the idea of writing in my book cause me such anxiety? I think because I feel pressured to: a) write a good book, b) do a good job so my partner is happy with what I write, and c) I need to finish this book - there's a deadline.

Deadlines and worrying about what you write are real cripplers. Instead of sitting with a glass of bourbon in a rustic cabin with a fire crackling, I'm sitting in my middle class, cookie cutter house, with the need to produce a masterpiece. The first visual reminded me of my ski condo in Tahoe in 1986. Sitting in a hot tub with the snow coming down all around me. And the glow of the fireplace showing through the window. Ahhhh....those were the days......

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Sorry, I drifted off......Writing can be a real burden. So how then do you create great works if you are sitting with the weight of the world on your fingers? You need to find that place in your heart or head where you produce great things.  For me, I'm writing this to stir up my creative juices prior to working on my next chapter in the book. I'm writing so that I can write.

You shouldn't let writing become a burden. And, neither should we make writing a burden for our students. Let them have time to write whatever they want to write. Have them write in every content area - including P.E. and Music. Create a time for spontaneous writing: "For the next 15 minutes I want you to write about what you did this morning prior to walking into my classroom." And let them make up things. If it's close to being realistic then it really doesn't matter what they write. And what if they write that they rode a dinosaur to school this morning? Commend them on being such great thinkers - and writers.

Many of our students will never get to the point where writing is fun because of their experience in school. My daughter was an awesome writer in middle school and she loved writing stories for Fanfiction. Talking with her during her senior year she stated that all of the fun was taken out of writing because she "only knew how to write in AP-style."  She, literally, didn't think she could write for fun any more! What the heck happened? School happened.

I love to write. I'm not very good at it. I ramble a bit and I use too many commas. For example, I love starting sentences with "for example,." I also like to start sentences with "then,." But, the bottom line is, I like to write and I write what words/sentences appear in my head as I'm typing. And, sometimes, I find strange ways to end a post. Thank you for reading this. Now back to "work." Or will it be back to "some fun."