Sunday, July 8, 2012

TMT Summer Writing Group - Week Six

Any time I get excited about something, I search for books to learn more about it. When I knew I was going to be focusing on writing this summer, I bought Real Revision by my Teachers Write! amazing author friend, Kate Messner, and 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Jeff Anderson. Before I let myself dig into either of those though, I wanted to read On Writing by Stephen King.
I have only read a few of Stephen King's fiction books - The Shawshank Redemption being my favorite (both the book and the movie are fantastic). I tend to not like creepy-horror-suspense books or watch those movies but I recognize Stephen King as an amazing storyteller regardless. 

Reading On Writing is exactly what I needed to read! It's a perfect book. He starts by talking about his childhood and it's mainly autobiographical but he also weaves in how his experiences led him to his career as an author. Later in the book, he focuses seriously on writing and talks about his process and what makes sense to him. Let me show you how much I loved this book:
I marked a page any time I read something I thought I would want to go back to. The picture says enough - I absolutely loved this book! I recommend that all Teachers Write participants read this! 

Last week, I talked about having a writer's notebook, this week, I'll share some of my favorite parts of Stephen King's on writing that focus on actually just getting started with writing. The first quote actually ties in with the topic of having a writer's notebook from last week. Get your ideas in those notebooks!

"There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers, good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up." p. 37

Here are a few quotes about how important it is to read read read in order to be able to write. This is so important and something we need to recognize when we teach. We need to get kids reading but also get them paying attention to what's around them so they can get writing as well.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” p. 145
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.” p. 147
He also explains that when we do get down to reading and writing consistently, we can learn about ourselves and what helps us read and write. That's what Teachers Write has been about - about doing the work so we can better help students do the work. 

“You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself. These lessons almost always occur with the study door closed.” p. 236

These next two quotes changed my approach to writing. I have been dedicated to writing this summer and I read Kate's blog about making time to write and to write everyday. I didn't think a lot about where to write and how to make the most of the time I do set aside for writing. This week I have really eliminated distractions and it has made a huge difference! 
“For any writer, but for the beginning writer in particular, it’s wise to eliminate every possible distraction.” p. 156
“When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you’re writing, you’re creating your own worlds.” p. 156
How did I eliminate distractions? Stephen King helped me with this, too. We live in a townhouse so all space is shared space. None of us have a spot all our own. When I read that King wrote in a laundry room, I realized that could be my writing space! A space to close the door and shut out distractions.
“I wrote my first two published novels, Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot, in the laundry room of a doublewide trailer, pounding away on my wife’s portable Olivetti typewriter and balancing a child’s desk on my thighs; John Cheever reputedly wrote in the basement of his Park Avenue apartment building, near the furnace. The space can be humble (probably should be, as I think I have already suggested), and it really needs only one things: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business; you have made a serious commitment to write and intend to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.” p. 155
It's already week six of Teachers Write...if you haven't joined in yet, now is the time! And if you have, remember to just keep going. Define a goal or a purpose, make the time, and get to it. Here's what Stephen King says to that:
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.
After that, things can only get better.” p. 269

I was inspired by this book but now that I've spent my time reading about writing, it's time to write!

“…the hours we spend talking about writing 
is time we don’t spend actually doing it.” p. 144

My rules for the TMT Summer Writing Group:
1. We respect each other and the types of writing we do.
2. We only criticize each other constructively.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Today, in the comments section:
Where do you write? How do you eliminate distractions?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The bet part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week of writing!


1 comment:

  1. This resonates with me as a teacher/writer, "That's what Teachers Write has been about - about doing the work so we can better help students do the work."
    I have realized that it can be hard work. Very satisfying, but hard. We need to help our students to stay in the struggle. I have had to do that with Teacher's Write. After two weeks when all I had done was read other people's awesome writing, I hadn't done or shared any of my own. I had to just bite the bullet and do it. Just do it.
    The best part of my week was getting some positive feedback. I woke up early one morning and wrote at about 6 AM, posted first, and got some really nice comments. Of course, I realize the importance of feedback, so I want to get my students into serious blogging this year.
    The place I write can be a problem because I am in the kitchen. While most days, I am alone, my new kitten likes to leap across the computer and make a few notes of her own. But I like being here, available, and with my pets.
    Thanks for this post. I have put the Stephen King book in my shopping cart. (My birthday is around the corner.)


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