During the month of March, I participated in the Slice of Life Story Challenge developed by Two Writing Teachers. The challenge proposed was to write a blog post each day during the month of March. Today is March 30th and this marks my 25th post for the month. Yes, I missed a few days during the month. Life challenges got in the way. I didn’t complete the full challenge, but I am very pleased with my results. The journey has been an eye-opening experience – one that has stretched my writing muscle! I am a stronger writer because of this month-long excursion. So, what did I learn?
- I learned that writing takes time. Most posts were not written in one sitting. I found evenings were my best time to write, but posts started sporadically through the day. Once I had an idea, I’d start the post as a draft. I would jot down key ideas. As my day continued, I would think about the idea and how to expand it. Once evening came I would write, revise, and edit until I felt secure enough to click “publish.” Some ideas have not made it out of my “drafts” folder. Someday!
- I need to think out loud. I talked to myself a lot. I rehearsed what I wanted to say. My dog thought I was crazy at times, but I think he got use to it. Reading posts out loud also guided the revision and editing stages throughout the process.
- I wrote where I was comfortable. I wrote most posts from the comfort of my sofa rather than from the desk in my home office. What does this have to say about our classroom writing spaces? This really got me thinking about wanting to help teachers redesign classrooms so that the mirror real life. Desks are too stiff and stifling for my liking and creativity!
- My day wasn’t complete without writing. Even when I got overly busy or tired, I’d try to find time to post something. I felt bad on the days I didn’t post – but I didn’t let it bother me that much. I forced myself to just get back into the routine. Now I just need to do this with adding more exercise to my day!
- Poetry was fun to write. Poetry hasn’t been a genre I’ve tried for a long time. The poems of other writers in the Slice of Life Challenge served as mentor text and provided the push I needed to give poetry a try.
- Writing more expands your reach! I started out the month looking at my past blogging data. It framed my purpose for starting this challenge. I had noticed that my writing had greatly decreased over the last year. This month I hit two all time highs for my almost 4-year-old blog. Blog hits this month totaled 7,352 with an average of 251 hits per day. Crazy!
- Writing is social. The support and comments from blog readers fueled my excitement to keep writing. Today I had the opportunity to take that one step farther. The topic of blogging came up during a weekly Twitter chat (#educoach) I co-moderate each Wednesday. Today I spent an hour chatting with two #educoach-ers via Google+ Hangout on the topic of blogging. Thanks, @kennycmckee and @jbteachr. You pushed my thinking and inspired me on this writing journey! I look forward to learning and growing with you!
- To teach writers we must BE WRITERS! This challenge, and blogging as a whole, has solidified my belief that in order to teach, encourage and inspire writers in our classrooms (and beyond) we need to be writers ourselves. Writing is more than a class period. It is more than assigned topics. It is more than a lesson aligned to the Common Core. It is more than turning in something to be read and graded by a teacher. Writing is real. It is messy. It is challenging. It is rewarding. It takes grit to massage an idea and form it into something to you are willing to share with the world. It requires a lot of thought and reflection. It can’t be confined to a certain time and place. Real writing must be modeled and guided for students. I know as a teacher I encouraged writing but much was through “assigned” writing. I KNOW I didn’t model real, authentic writing enough for my students. They didn’t see me struggle as a real writer. They didn’t see the full progression of taking an idea to a final piece. They saw portions of that process – but not everything that went on “behind the scenes” in my mind. Writing, real writing, is far more than writing a draft, revising it, and then editing it. The process isn’t linear as so many classroom “Writing” charts and textbooks prescribe.
I’m thankful for this Slice of Life Challenging and my overall blogging journey. The support received from fellow bloggers has helped me discover that developing writing communities for ourselves and our students is essential. Together we build our writing muscles! Together we are STRONGER!
Now on to the next challenge – to keep this momentum going. I can’t say I will continue to write everyday – but I WILL continue to blog on a more consistent basis! Look out! More to come!
Photo credit: Personal photo taken on Muscle Beach, just south of the Santa Monica Pier.