In class, Dr. Ellington had us each select a piece of writing from our notebooks to polish. She explained that it could be an idea, a line, an entry, or any recurring themes. We were given time to read through all of our writings.
After each person had settled on something, Dr. Ellington had us go around the room and share our ideas. Some students needed guidance, some needed fresh ideas, some needed to brainstorm. It was one giant writing conference between peers, students, and teachers. It was incredible.
Writers were sent off with permission to simply write what they were afraid of, to explore a new genre, or to experiment with the structure of their words.
Holy well-spring of mini-lessons.
And hence came my self-absorbed title. My writing is a wonderland. In examining my process of writing, and the process of others, I ran into a never-ending supply of mini-lessons for growing writers.
Because who actually writes the way most students are taught to write? Who in their journals creates a topic proposal asking permission to write? Who gives an outline with a thesis, supporting details, and conclusion? Some possibly, but certainly not me.
I have a hard time now with teachers who make me follow a certain process. I end up writing my way, and then I go back and make my topic proposal. I write my outline after I have fleshed out my ideas. I create a thesis last. I can only imagine how students much less passionate about writing feel.
Earlier this week, I met with Dr. Ellington in her office. She asked me if she could give me any feedback on my writing. At first I told her no, but then I remembered I had been struggling with my rough draft for my Slice of Life blog.
It was rough, most definitely. I was at a loss for direction. I had written this piece in the heat of the moment; they were words spilling out from my hand. Dr. Ellington pointed out that in the early part of my piece where I was most agitated, my sentences were fragments. She also pointed at that when I started to focus on the nature around me, my sentences became longer and more relaxed.
Boom. Mini lesson on using sentence structure to portray emotions.
My slice was condensed down into a matter of about 30 minutes. Boom. Mini lesson on using time in writing, whether it’s over a period of months or a span of 30 minutes.
This is just from my small piece of writing. Imagine a class of around 25 young writers who all tackle the process in different ways. I’m practically drooling at all the things we have to teach other.
Writing is a process that looks different for everyone. My process won’t work for everyone, and neither will cookie-cutter outlines and proposals. I want students to be able to write how they’re comfortable. Of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t ask students to explore outside of their comfort zone. In order to grow, writers need to stretch and explore.
This week I learned that my writing is a wonderland. In it, I have so many different processes and routines. I have strategies and game plans. I just needed to look into myself a little more. Each of my students will have processes and strategies. Together, we all have so much to learn.
So I have one question for you. Do you believe your writing is a wonderland?