Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The One Where Writing Is Awesome #slice2013

Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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Last week was absolutely amazing for my writing life! On Sunday, I loaded up my car and headed off to Indiana to meet up with other Choice Literacy contributors to write and talk about writing. I'm so thankful to Brenda Power, founder of Choice Literacy, for inviting me to be part of this retreat. As soon as I got there, we were sent off to write and bring back something to share with a small group. We shared and talked about our writing and then had free time to get settled. My roommate was Katherine Sokolowski from Read, Write, Reflect. Sunday night, Katherine and I walked down to the lake, dipping our toes in the warm water. It was so peaceful and a perfect beginning to our time there.
This picture is a little dark, but Katherine and I were so excited to be here! I'm glad we were able to be roommates. We talked about blogging, writing for Choice Literacy and working on writing books. The whole time we were there, I was flooded with inspiration from the writers around me and the time to really think about my own writing. It helps to surround yourself with other writers and to be able to talk about writing, support and inspire each other. It was awesome to fall asleep after talking with Katherine about writing and then to wake up and start talking about writing all over again!
As scary as some people find sharing to be, I actually find that sharing is what I love most about writing. I love being able to express myself through writing. Writing something that makes someone else think or laugh or ache or want to write, too, is the most exciting part about writing. Without being able to share my writing, I don't think I would feel as motivated to write. Just knowing that someone somewhere might read what I have written and enjoy it...or hate it enough to be moved by it, is a great feeling. If we look at writing as a way of communicating, then sharing our writing is an integral piece. I believe in giving students experiences where they can share their writing, no matter where they are in the process, I think it's great to give students an authentic experience with sharing their writing. I know it helps me. 
Here is the group of wonderful writers I got to share this experience with! From left to right: Deb Gaby, Katherine Sokolowski, Katie Dicesare, Shari Frost, Max Brand, Ruth Ayres, Franki Sibberson, Brenda Power, Bill Bass (and me!). 
I got lots of writing done for Choice Literacy but also worked on revising my WIP. It was awesome. Here I am hard at work, I found all sorts of writing places but when it was time to spread out, I ended up in our room on my bed.
Look at how happy I was! It was just so energizing and fulfilling to have the focused time to write!
One of the things we revisited throughout our time together was the idea of developing writing habits. Brenda put out rows and rows of cards with writing affirmations on them and asked us to walk around and choose 2-3 that really resonated with us. I'm at a place in my writing where I just need to push myself to make the time to write but also that I need to celebrate when I do get writing done. I chose these two cards:
Every time I sat down to write, I took off my watch (and anything else on my wrists) and read the first card, focusing on the phrase, "Bring it on blank page!" And then when I was done with writing, I did a word count and recorded it on my computer and then read the second card, changing it in my head to, "Today I proved it on the page!" and celebrating that I wrote and just how good it felt. 

This habit has a beginning and an end (with writing in the middle) and it is portable, I can take it anywhere with me at any time, and it really helped me focus on that great feeling of having written something. While I'm sure we all feel relief or satisfaction to know we have written something, I know I didn't always make a conscious effort to really relish in the happiness. Now, I do! And I love it. It reminds me of when I was training for the Chicago Marathon...ten years ago...and I developed a similar routine with a mantra to tell myself again and again and then I always did a celebratory double-fist pump when I finished my run. They say that so much of running a marathon is mental and I think it applies to writing, too. We can't get in our own way, we have to celebrate and motivate ourselves. It's all in the decisions we make. 

Developing writing habits and finding friends to talk to about writing, people who will really critique and support you, is so important. I've never felt so good about my writing. I love writing, I love the writing process, I love sharing my writing but being at the Choice Literacy writing retreat helped me really see myself as the writer that I am. I've been reading The Productive Writer, which Brenda gave us at the retreat, and am so excited to share some of the ideas about writing. So far I feel like I'm owning my writing in a different way and feel empowered as a writer. And that's pretty awesome. 

What experiences have shaped who you are as a writer? How has talking with others about writing influenced you? And what makes writing awesome for you?

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