I teach my first writing class of the new school year in just 13 days.
Our writing year is wide open, I will tell my students. We will write whatever and wherever our stories, our curiosities, and our opinions take us.
We’ll write together, I’ll promise, each one of us knowing what it feels like to look at that blinking cursor and blank screen, that wide expanse of empty paper. We’ll know because we face it every single day too. We’ll know today’s drift will lead to tomorrow’s draft. We’ll understand our beginning confusion may end as courage if we’re each willing to write our way through it.
At some point in that first 43 minute period I will tell them I spent my summer vacation writing.
And I will tell them, if I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing. I listened to phrasing in my head while folding laundry. I wrote bumpy journal notes during long car rides. I subscribed to writing magazines and reached out with story ideas. I shared my writing with other writers. And I wrote every letter, syllable, word, phrase, and sentence with my heart.
Now my heart’s invested in writing with all of them too. I didn’t just write for me, I wrote for them. And all summer long, I wrote like a writer who also teaches writing.
So here’s some summer writing souvenirs I’ve stashed in my school bag:
- Make time to write. Writers write. In our class, we will write every single day.
- Notes count. Lists and letters too. So do sketches, doodles, diagrams, and drawings. Thinking is writing too, so we’ll be sure to think with our screens open or a pencil in hand.
- Use photography. Photos sometimes inspire topic, but mostly theme, mood, and feeling. I’m a visual learner and many of my students are as well. Sometimes all we need is a visual jump start, and words will come.
- We will write from all the places we go: the cafeteria, the playground, field trips, the soccer field, and the bus. We will find the stories of our lives in the dentist’s office, the dance studio, and at the dinner table. We will find our stories in the places where we live, learn, and play.
- We will reach out to other writers. Nothing builds confidence like community. Technology allows us to write with other writers all around our world. Our writing will reach, teach, and touch others – and our community will celebrate the writers we are.
- Write as if no one else will ever read it. Write without fear. Write real. Write you.
And toss in a little trust, I’ll tell those kids, because you’ve come to your writing home.