First, convince them they ARE writers

(part one in a series)
This semester, I teach writing in pre-K on Wednesdays, and writing to college students on Fridays. I’m quickly discovering that the only real difference is the texts I use.

This is not my first rodeo with undergrads, so much of what I encountered there the first week was no surprise. Undergraduates come to me jaded and lacking confidence.

Writing as a way of life

I was everything in those stories that I thought I couldn’t be in real life: a sassy smart aleck with an uncanny ability to insult and/or shame all those who wronged me in any way. I also wrote letters to my mom (my frequent antagonist) and then tore them into tiny undetectable pieces and threw them away.  I suppose it was always about the process of writing for me, about how I felt after writing, not about publishing my end products.

What writers do: Obsess, recall, wonder, question, and record (an example)

I once lost a journal, left it behind at a breakfast diner in the heart of Boston… I didn’t sleep for two full days worrying about it. …Had it been noticed or unwittingly swept into the trash? …did anyone read it? Did they laugh? In the good way? Or cry? Did they see any potential? Did they like it? Boston is a literary city, after all, so there was a lot at stake for me.

I have lived (and write about it)

I am honored to be a contributor to a blog that I love, Sharing Our Notebooks curated by children’s author and teacher Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. I have given writing teachers a quick peek inside my notebooks in the past, but with Amy’s blog as inspiration, this time I am really putting myself out there, baring entries that fed the works closest to my heart.