Sunday, July 7, 2013

Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Week 2

I would never have come to writing if not for all the wonderfully, splendid books I read and loved in my life. Or the dreadfully, horrible books, for that matter. Having read so many books, I know my perspective on writing has changed. When you've only read one book, you don't have anything else to compare that book to. You might love the book or hate the book but it's all you've got. Once you read another book, then you have two books. And when you look at two books, there's probably one book that you like just a little bit better than the other. Or maybe you enjoy the description more in one book but you enjoy the characters more in the other book. Either way, when you have two books, then you can analyze and compare. Well, after you've read hundreds and hundreds of book, you've really got something to compare. It seems natural that after reading so much, it's time to write. 
Reading before writing is what mentor texts are all about. Ralph Fletcher says that "mentor texts are any texts that you can learn from". As writers, we can learn from texts all around us. I have often found inspiration on the cups at Starbucks. Where I truly find my inspiration is in the books I read everyday. Last weekend at ALA, I talked to my friend, Gary Anderson, about how it is so important for writers to be readers. He asked me if I thought writers needed to read within the genre they are writing or if I would suggest reading varied genres. Great question, right? I think the answer is both. By reading so many different types of books and books by different authors, we get a grasp of unique styles of writing. By reading several books within one genre, we get to know what authors are doing within the genre we want to write. I see value in both. I also see value in recognizing what is commonly done in order to see how we can play with words or structure to create something new. Here are some of my favorite quotes about reading before writing:

For my young adult novels, I've read many books 
that are in some way an inspiration to me.
Here are a some of them:
After reading Life in the Ocean, a non-fiction picture book about the oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, I got inspired to write a book about the life of a local famous person...I'm not sure if I'll write it or not, but I started by checking out any book that my library system has about this man. In a sense, reading about what you are going to write about is doing research. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, it's important to know what's out there, what has been written before, and what you can add to that particular topic or genre. 

My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
I finally finished one of the courses I'm taking this summer and it feels amazing. This week, I got started on my writing late, but I did make some headway on rewriting the beginning of my WIP. My favorite part of the week is sharing on Friday Feedback and that always motivates me to write. Then yesterday, I sat down and did a writing sprint and got a little over 1,000 words in. I keep reminding myself that even a little bit counts. I also have a nice bookstack from the library to read as research for this non-fiction picture book idea I's totally random but kind of exciting at the same time. 

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
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:
What are your mentor texts?
What do you look for in a mentor text for yourself?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

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