Tag Archives: teaching writing

Finding my voice

After reading almost everyone else’s blog posts, I am at a loss of what to write in this one. Mostly because the thoughts rocketing around my brain right now feel like a super-speed game of Pong. I told myself all week long “you should really get started on that blog post…after all, your last post was all about getting into a routine of writing. What on earth will people think if you talk about the importance of writing and then turn around and wait until the last minute again?” Well…I waited until the last minute again.

After a brief moment to open up Pandora and set a Mozart station, I feel much more ready to write. For some reason, Mozart is my thinking music. Perhaps the lack of words to distract me? Note: I think every blog I’m going to list questions for YOU all that pop into my head and post them at the end to answer as you please.

I am going to try to use this space as a place to free write and work in the readings as they fit, but mostly I want to get myself thinking and writing again in a way that never seems to happen when all I think of are scripted assignments. Hopefully re-educating myself on writing will make me a better teacher when it comes to writing. One thing I know I need to work on in my own writing is VOICE. When I read back on my writing, it always seems so stiff and formal. Which is good when the assignment is to write a formal paper, but not so good when I’m thinking about how I’m going to someday teach students how to write in a more natural and creative environment than “Write a five paragraph essay on this topic I chose for you.” Hopefully this blog will help me find my own voice in writing again, since it seems to have left me somewhere between my elementary and high school years. As an a exercise in the kind of writing I will encourage in my own students, here is an experiment of my own free writing…and now, I write.

I talked to one of my best friends earlier this week in preparation for my minilesson on “How to visit Wales” for my practicum class. Talking about Wales and all the memories we had and preparing for that lesson in general made me realize that writing is important not only as a memento of experiences that we ourselves want to remember (one way I’ve successfully used writing in the past), but also for another reason: to relate those experiences to other people. Okay, so that sounded completely obvious, but what I *really* mean is this: said friend and I again (it’s a frequent topic when we’re “homesick” for Wales) talked about how it is really impossible for anyone who hasn’t been in a similar experience (living three thousand+ miles from home in a foreign country with all these new places to see and things to do) to understand why we miss it so much. It is a constant frustration to me that no one I see/converse with on a regular basis (besides said friend) can seem to relate to this in any way: not my husband, not my parents, not my other geographically closer friends. This is it: writing. Cue lightbulb moment. Thinking about how I would want to explain my occasional homesickness for this land that no one around me has ever really thought of, let alone seen. The simplest mode: writing.

Putting words on a page (or in this case, a blank screen) is a much easier mode for me to express myself to other people. This is the easiest way for me to think of reader-based prose versus writer-based prose. If I need to explain something to someone who wasn’t there (and I’m talking NEED to explain, not just hopeful that someone else will interpret your meaning the way you intended it), what better lens to use than something I have already experienced? As the semester goes on, I hope that I can build on this. And I hope that when I become a fully-fledged teacher, this is something I can share with my students to help illustrate the importance and relevance of writing to their lives. Writing is practice at telling a story. It gives you more freedom and time and space to craft a story for the telling than does an on-the-spot conversation. Or at least it does for me! I hope I haven’t over-philosophized my point. I think the original point was for me to learn how to write in my own voice, which somehow turned into reader/writer-based prose. Note: this is what happens when you go into a blog post not sure of what to write!

Questions: Do you listen to music as you write? If so, what inspires you?



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Me as a writer…

I am a technically good writer. By this, I mean that I am good at writing correct papers. I have a thing for grammar and a love for words, a feeling to which I’m sure everyone in this course can relate. I enjoy writing literary analysis papers, which is probably a good thing since I spent three and half years of my undergrad career doing exactly that. I also took a few courses in creative writing: personal essay, an honors course on memoir writing, and travel writing. Each of these classes tested me as a writer, and I enjoyed the push to write; I realized I had more to write about than I could have imagined. But I am a reluctant writer. That is not to say that I do not enjoy writing, as I do enjoy the process, but I find myself wondering whether I have any stories left to tell.

To be honest, since my college graduation in May 2010, I have not written for myself at all, that I can recall. I have written papers and reflections for summer classes; grocery lists; reminders to myself; birthday cards; emails; personal letters; wedding thank yous; Facebook posts. For me, beginning this class is like swimming on a cool summer day – I want to jump into the pool to acclimate myself as quickly as possible, knowing that after the brief discomfort, I will enjoy the experience. But I find myself dipping in one toe at a time, unsure of myself. Reading Fletcher’s What a Writer Needs, I am reminded how much easier it is to write when you do so on a regular basis. Daily journals in my creative writing classes, even with the oftentimes prescribed topics, forced me to jump into the pool. I need to acclimate again.

In Fletcher’s book, “Chapter 11: A Playfulness with Time,” ┬áhe points out the importance of consistency and how it is perhaps a writer’s most essential habit. While the consistency (and inconsistency) of writing is something I have personally dealt with, it is one of those times where what should be immediately apparent needs a big blinking orange sign before I can see it clearly. Based upon my own experience, and also after reflecting on Fletcher’s advice, I realize that my English classroom needs consistent time for students to write. I have no real sense yet of how I will implement the writing process in my classroom, but of course that is why I am here.


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