Whew! I made it! Day 31!
Last year, my daughter and I ‘sliced’ together. Each day, Lily (who was four years old at the time) told a story and I either video-recorded it, wrote it down, or photographed her writing and posted it. I learned so much about storytelling and how to inspire Lily–to this day she tells stories every single day. When she sees me on the computer she sidles up next to me and works away on her own books. If you’re interested, here’s the link to my reflection from last year’s challenge, which summarizes a bit of what I learned about storytelling with young children.
This year, I decided to write my own stories–partly because of time constraints, and partly because I knew that this would be a chance for me to work on my own craft and to grow as a writer. I never thought that I could top last year’s experience, but I learned just as much, if not more, about teaching writing even though no kids were involved (except as inspiration, of course).
A few things I learned:
1. There is always something to write about. Even when there isn’t. More than ever, I stand by my advice to kids and teachers. Write anything. Whatever comes to mind. I go a little nuts whenever I hear somebody say, “These kids don’t have experiences.” Aaaargh! If you are breathing and you have a pulse, then you are having experiences. Write about what you had for breakfast. Write about waking up this morning. Write about anything and write about nothing–it will turn into something.
2. Try new things. I wrote fiction for the first time and I LOVED it! It was incredibly difficult at first. I must have rewritten my first attempt at fiction a hundred times before I finally posted it, but each fictional post got a little easier and now I’m in love with writing fiction.
3. Don’t be afraid to suck. There were more than a handful of nights this month where what I wrote was not my best — but I still wrote. And you know what? That’s better than nothing! For example, I wrote a sort of rambling post about my memory early on in the challenge. Not my greatest. But then a few of the ideas from it sort of stuck with me and led me to one of my fictional story ideas, which then led to another, better idea. Everybody has to start somewhere, right?
4. There is always time–if you make time. Writing every day makes a difference. Like most teachers and moms, I really don’t have any free time. I thought about listing all my very good excuses for not writing here, but the list was just too long. Trust me, I’m an extremely busy person, and I really didn’t think I could do it. But I somehow made time. Usually at night, after everybody else was in bed. Some nights it was only five minutes and wasn’t totally in love with what I wrote. Other nights I had a little more time and that felt great. Some nights I really REALLY wanted to switch on the iPad and watch Downton Abbey just once instead of writing. But you know what feels REALLY REALLY great–I wrote a little bit every day, enough to actually grow as a writer. If I had only written sporadically, like once a week, I wouldn’t have tried so many new things, or grown as much as I did. This confirms what I already knew — that writing every day is important and worth making time for. In our lives, and in our classrooms.
I also want to say thank you to my coauthors on Two Writing Teachers, the best writing partners a person could wish for. Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, and Anna are just wonderful to work with. So much time and effort goes into planning and hosting this month’s challenge–from the prizes, to the daily calls for slices, to organizing the Welcome Wagon and Tech Support (thank you volunteers!) right down to the tiniest details. But doing it all together as a team makes it such a rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.