Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

It's time for another NaNoWriMo, so time to do some writing.

But yesterday I had a moment with one of my fourth graders.  She has been struggling with writing.  She says "I need help..." an awful lot and keeps fighting to come up with transitions and capturing thoughts.  It has been a frustrating process for her.

She brought in her writer's notebook from 3rd grade to show me.  It's a standard composition book that she covered with family photos and inside were writing assignments and stories she wrote the previous year.  She looked at me with sad eyes and said, "See, I used to write a lot.  Why is it so hard now?"

It was clear she was in pain over this.  I looked at her and said, "You know I was a professional writer and wrote a weekly column for seven years.  There were times when it was easy and weeks where I struggled hard to come up with an idea and everything I wrote sounded lame or cliche.  That's part of being a writer.  Sometimes it's just flows as if it will never end and sometimes it feels like you could never put two words together.  That's sort of the way of writing."



She smiled and I gave her back her journal.  I pulled out mine and showed it to her.  I showed her that sometimes I make lists, sometimes I write, sometimes I outline and sometimes I draw pictures.  I reminded her that what makes a writer is not so much writing when it's easy but more of sticking with it when no words will come.

It was one of the few days in recent memory where she was able to focus on her work.

As I approach wrimo this year, I need to remember my own advice: being a writer is when you stick with it when no words will come, particularly when you're staring at hitting your daily deadline.

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