Creating Writers

In creating, the only hard thing is to begin; a grass-blade’s no easier to make than an oak. -James Russell Lowell

writersAs a writer, sitting in front of a blank screen with a blinking cursor mocking the emptiness of the page, Lowell’s quote hits home.  I often have no idea where my writing is going until I begin.  Often, it goes in directions surprising even to me.  That “aha” moment…the one when you have clarity, direction, and purpose is utterly inspiring.

My students are working on making a book using the Scribble Press App.  This is our first attempt at book making with this app.  They love all of the choices of tools this app provides.  Even though it is January, my students need me to model the process.  I model the think-aloud process of deciding what to write about and I even model being stuck.  I sit in front of the blank iPad screen and think….and think some more.  I model starting out with writing about one topic and then deciding to discard that idea and go in a different direction.  I model not finishing in one sitting.  They need to see this process and learn how to work through the “not knowing”.  We are all about instant gratification…we have to learn to process, think, and wait.

Their books are a work in progress.  I am hoping they will finish by the end of this week.  The end product, however, is not the important part.  It is what is learned in the getting there.  They are fussing over fonts, color and illustrations.  They are grappling with word choice, sounding out those words, and very emergent keyboarding skills on their iPads.  The Common Core standards emphasize three anchor standards for writing:  argument, informational, and narrative.  Human beings grow up on narratives, on stories.  We live our lives hearing stories and telling them.  We plan and daydream and work and worry in narrative.  How important then, is it to spend valuable time in this genre?

As tempting as it is at times, to rush through to get something done, allowing our students to sit and stew, think, plan, erase and start again is critical to growth in writing.  We have to set the stage, model and allow time-protected time-for genius to develop.

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