Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wrestling with writing

Day 28 of 31 at TWT!
I didn't feel like writing tonight.

Part of the beauty and necessity of writing when you are a teacher of writers is grappling with that feeling and realizing what it means to overcome it. I love writing. I may struggle with other parts of my identity, but I'm undoubtably a writer.

And if I, a writer, sometimes don't feel like writing, how much stronger and more frequent must that feeling be for students who don't see themselves as writers? If I, a writer, must sometimes dig deep, battle the voice that just wants to read or watch tv, and drag myself onto the blank screen to wrestle with writing as work (instead of joyful word play or an inspired flow of ideas), how much deeper must they have to dig? How much harder is their battle? How much more like work does it seem to them?

In my class, we do so much work with reflection and goal-setting. At this point in the year, my students have set goals, imagined outcomes, anticipated obstacles, made plans to overcome them, and reflected on their progress so often that those routines practically run themselves, especially with the help of my squad leaders. (In fact, we could be in danger of losing meaningfulness to monotony, but I hope those ideas become habits they internalize and use throughout their lives.) But that emotional battle of choosing discipline over default, of making yourself do the work even especially when you don't feel like it, of taking the conscious step to stare your obstacles in the face and force yourself to use one of your plans... that's the real key. There's nothing that I could possibly teach them that could be more important than how to chase their dreams with the relentless ferocity required to beat back the voice in each of our heads that tempts us to give up, give in, or just take the easy way out.

Usually, when I don't feel like writing, it's because I'm overly tired or "out of ideas". Tonight, I'm worn out but I have plenty of ideas... I just don't feel like writing about any of them! Squads in my class? I have 3 separate drafts already started about that, but I don't feel like diving into that on Spring Break. Running? I've been writing about that a lot lately. Sweetie? Ditto. Way too much. The hard stories? Nope. Not those. Not ready yet. Maybe not ever. Certainly not on Spring Break. Friendship? Two drafts sitting about that too, but I'm just not feeling the one, and the other is for farther down the road, if ever. 

Increasingly discouraged, I scroll through my list of slicing ideas. Everyday moments, special memories, a post based on a mentor post I've saved? Ehhhhhh.

I could write about not wanting to write... Been there, done that. But it could be fun... But I've done it. More than once! But I could put a different twist on it! And really, it's so good to reflect on that feeling for my kids! Maybe. It IS the biggest thing I'm feeling right now...

I start to go through my blogging routine: open a draft, go to the call for slices, drop the image in, add the tags I know I'm going to use. These familiar motions are like stretches before running. My brain is warming up to the idea of writing. I could focus on the teacher perspective. Ooh, and I could tie it into R-Factor! I could link to those old posts about this feeling...

I dive into my "writing" tag, looking for a couple of old posts I know I wrote a few years ago. My brain snaps awake as I realize there are more than I thought: an inner battle from not being prepared, a reflection on persistence, my two conflicting voices, and writing even when it's tough. And sprinkled in between, so many joy-filled posts celebrating the power of writing and how much I love it. Aw, I forgot about that! I almost get lost down a wormhole of rediscovering pieces of myself that I'd forgotten, and end up just closing the tab with the tag before I end up past bedtime with a half-finished post.

Over an hour later, I realize that I've somehow found my way to the writing zone: adding and revising sections, using the thesaurus, playing with formatting, body tense and eyebrows furrowed as my fingers try to keep up with my flying thoughts. How did I get here? By talking myself into sitting down to write. By reminding myself what I'd gain if I did. By choosing not to listen to the easy way out. By starting to go through the motions that would lead to writing. By doing the work.

I want my students to wrestle and win, too. With writing, with schoolwork, with life. This is why I write, why I teach, and why I open myself up as an example to them.

1 comment:

  1. When you find the message you want to share, the words flow. Your passion comes through and you inspire. I know if your kids read this they will identify with the struggle. I can't remember who said it, but writing happens because of BIC (butt in chair). Great job tonight getting that BIC!


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