Writing has always been my favorite subject to teach. I love teaching kids all about authors through the stories they write. We study the authors, look at techniques they use to begin to write (often the hardest part) and we work on practicing writing. They pick up their pencil and write for x amount of time. Every day as an endurance challenge. Once the kids lock into the writing time, they really do love it. I have seen dozens of packed notebooks full of stories to prove it. The idea is to write and never stop. Don’t. Lift. That. Pencil. When the buzzer rings, a mass gush of breath expels and the kids go around the room sharing their writing.
It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to be writing that has “thrown up from their head through their pencil lead onto the paper”. We call it zombie writing. That’s really what it feels like. A total trans. It may start with 45 seconds, maybe 4 minutes after a while. Eventually, my students can zombie write about the subjects that they have been writing about, or that interest them, for a good 45 minutes. Without interruptions.
That being said, I’ve been off work, not teaching for almost five months now for a ridiculous injury. Let’s say it was a clusterf@*k of bad luck and ridiculous decision making by everybody but me. It wasn’t just the kid that innocently decided to stick his leg out and have a little stretch while I walked forward to retrieve some papers from the carpet seats, thrusting me forward. It may have been the custodian or adult who put that damned rusted out chair up on the desk each day not noticing that the leg was clearly broken apart just waiting for that one idiot to sit on it…in a staff meeting. What a freaking nightmare! Right in the middle of some serious conversation, I blurt out “Oh my GOD I’m MELTING! Something’s happening! Why am I sinking to the ground?”.
These five months could partly be due to the surgeon who couldn’t get over his ego to admit he forgot to contact my other doctors to verify post op pain management just before wheeling me back into surgery, postponing it three more weeks. Whatever the reason, I can’t work. So, turning a bright eye to the situation, I finally had the time to become that writer I had always planned on becoming.
Let me clarify, it’s NOT that easy. It’s freaking painful to start writing! I know that if anyone can do it, I can do it. I have to! I even got the “MOM’s ONLY!” laptop to do the job. So the job must be done. But I’ve gotta tell you, the questions and self doubt you start attacking yourself with when you fist sit down to write are incredulous…
“Who’s going to tell my story?”
“What’s going to happen to my Christian Values if I write the good stuff I really want to write?”
“How am I going to find my audience?”
“It’s way more fun to read about this stuff. ”
“OMG the freaking words you have to write to get a little info across to the reader! This is going to take forever.”
“I’m going to hell.”
After two painful hours I finished two chapters, each in a different point of view since I couldn’t decide and only 1500 words.
I should have followed that small print in the teacher manual that insisted that we teachers sit and write during the student’s writing time. If I had, I am quite sure I wouldn’t be in this position of eye yoga as I glare at my monitor. What a gift it would have been to have given to myself that time to build writing stamina! You can’t get in trouble if the teacher’s book tells you to do it.
For any of you out there with kids. Allow me to give you an “I would if I could…” If you don’t have kids, good for you! Enjoy and take this time to build your own writing endurance.
Sit down with your kids or spouse, friend, your cat or by yourself.
Set a timer for one minute or so.
Write without stopping.
When the buzzer goes off, share.
Parents: NEVER CORRECT their organic writing at this creative stage. EVER. That’s how you get a kid to shut down and hate to write. Put away that red pen.
Just watch what happens over time. This is free, can be done anywhere, and anytime.
Let me know in the comments below if you have experience with this or if you have tried it yourself. I’d love to hear if your kids develop an affinity towards writing.