As we sat at Panera at 6am on a Monday morning having breakfast and feeding our writing souls, Kara reminded us that the National Day on Writing was fast approaching. Our conversation quickly turned to why each of us writes. We noticed many similarities but also recognized that each of our reasons why is a little different and that these differences stemmed from the what and how attached to our why.
Why We Write
Beth → Honestly, I find writing to be a way to process and reflect on everything. I find more power in writing my thoughts down than just reflecting in my mind (which is what I often do due to time). I write to find myself and to figure out where I want to go.
Corinne → Writing isn’t easy for me. But the more I do it, the more I realize it can be a relaxing and creative outlet for me. When the words come easy, it is one of the most rewarding things I do in my week.
Kara → I write for a couple of different reasons. I write because I’ve recognized the importance of doing what I ask my students to do. I also write because I believe that I have something worthy of sharing. Rarely does anything go perfectly in my classroom, but when something is especially successful or impactful, I don’t want it to end with my students. I feel an obligation to share successes with educators in hopes that other students are impacted, too.
Lori → I write to challenge myself and my thinking. I have never truly identified as a writer, but I have always valued the importance of it. Blogging has allowed me to experience writing differently. Writing helps me to think deeply about what I do and why I do it. For me, it is an outlet to reflect and adjust my thinking and practice. This is powerful and productive.
Rachel → Writing is a way for me to decompress and reflect. I keep a daily journal that I write in before bed every night, and it helps to take a weight off every time I put words down on the page. I also think of this writing as a way to remember what I was going through at the time – I have looked through past journals and reflected on the growth I’ve made since I was the person who wrote those past words. I also write to model for students – in my professional writing and the work that I do specifically to show to students. I want to be an authentic teacher of writing, and I can’t achieve that if I’m not writing myself.
Rita → I am finding that the more time I make for writing the more rewarding writing is. I am writing most often to help me reflect – on my day, my work, my learning, my life in general – and this writing is inspiring me to broaden my why. These daily reflections are spurring writing that (hopefully) moves beyond me and that I hope will help others to think and reflect.
How We Write
Beth – I write with little planning unlike what I ask my students to do. I often sit down in a quiet place and just start with a dribble or torrent of words. It depends on the topic and how comfortable I feel with the subject. When I write narratives, it is a slow, sometimes painful, process. Writing about my work or my family is much easier. I typically write more for this blog, but I do keep a journal that I try to write in often.
Corinne- I need a purpose and a passion before I can produce a piece. The brainstorming is the most important step for me. Once I have an idea, I write a first draft quickly. My confidence level isn’t very high so I need feedback from my writing partners. I tend to revisit a draft many times before I am satisfied and towards the end of the process, I try to spend several days away from the draft so I can get some clarity about what I was trying to say.
Kara → I have to write ideas down as quickly as they pop into my head. Sometimes they go on sticky notes, sometimes they go in my planner, sometimes they go in Google Docs, sometimes in emails to myself, sometimes in the notepad app on my phone. I have ideas spread everywhere, and they’re often difficult to relocate! Once I have an idea, I have to have a quiet space to bring the little seed of an idea to life. Late nights no longer work for me and my family, so I find quiet time in the early morning hours when most of the world is still snoozing.
Lori – I start with an idea that I am excited about. I choose topics that I want to dig deeper with or that I want to share with others. I write a draft, revisit my writing, and then I share it with my think partners. I don’t rush, I take my time in the process. I appreciate the feedback from others as I write. I always need an extra nudge from others to publish as I gain confidence in writing for an audience.
Rachel → Usually, I just start. I’m a writer who needs to just dive in, with my plan in my head. Then, as I’m writing, I will jot down little planning notes, or make boxes that say, “Look here! This is where you can go.” I am someone who loves to hold a pen, so writing in a journal or a notebook is the most satisfying to me. Digital writing is wonderful for easy revisions and the ability to share, but I’m a pen-and-paper rough draft person. I also love playing with hand-lettering, which I think lends itself to my love of journal writing.
I need a quiet space to write or some instrumental music in my headphones. I love being places where I can observe, especially when I can either be outside or look outside when I’m writing. Even when it’s not the subject of my writing, nature inspires me.
Rita → The 10-15 minutes I spend each in my bedroom sitting in my Gram’s chair surrounded by the smell of eucalyptus with my reflection journal in my lap has become one of the favorite parts of my day. I find myself writing sentence after sentence about the day. These sentences might tell of something that made me happy, or something I am still thinking about, or help me develop a plan for moving forward; they are messy, sometimes incomplete thoughts. As I finish writing about that day I reread noticing ideas that I need to write more purposefully and coherently about so that I might be able to share them with others. The possibility of sharing this writing with others forces me to be much more careful. I find myself writing and revising, working hard to choose just the right word to convey an authentic message.
What We Write
Corinne– Nearly all the writing I do is professional. I am not pleased with this because I am learning that writing is a personal and cathartic exercise that fulfills my verbal needs. Day to day, most of my writing is in the form of email to teachers and parents in our building, but I also enjoy blogging with my friends and texting with my daughters. I am also exploring how I can use social media like Twitter to express myself outside of my professional work.
Kara → I write a lot in my profession; I write emails, lesson plans, models of for my students, and now I blog! In my personal life, I write text messages, captions on my Instagram posts, and write an occasional Facebook post. A little over a year ago, I spoke at my grandfather’s funeral, and that was obviously an especially meaningful piece of writing for me to craft and share. This weekend, my cousin and best friend are getting married, and they’ve asked me to officiate their wedding, so I’m currently writing their wedding ceremony, which is exceptionally exciting and an unbelievable honor!
Lori – Much of my writing is professional writing that I do for my work. I am an idea writer. When I have a thought or idea, I always need to jot it down (often on a post-it!), but then I take these ideas and elaborate further. Sometimes these ideas turn into an email conversation with a colleague or a tweet or a conversation or a blog post or a professional development item. I write when there is a purpose – the format often changes.
Rachel → My favorite form of writing right now is my reflection journal, in which I write thoughts from the day, but it also serves as a gratitude journal. Being reflective is what helps me grow, and for me is a method of self-care. I also write models for students, but most of the time I show them a “final product.” I am going to work on showing them more of the messiness of the writing process. Blog posts are another form of writing I do, and a fun way to challenge myself to put my writing out there for others to see. One of my dreams in life is to write fiction, so I usually have at least one story cooking on the back burner. I don’t always give much attention to these, but I like knowing they are there.
Rita → Journaling is the most consistent writing I do and often leads to the two professional writing adventures I am currently enjoying – blogging with my writing friends and working on my dissertation. Also, I Tweet pretty often, write emails for work and text with family and friends.
Why do you write? How does your why connect to what and how you write? How can we help students identify their why and encourage their what and how?