Saturday, August 22, 2015

Let's Celebrate A Habit For Free Writing!

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

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This week I'm celebrating the power of habits!

*throws confetti*

A couple of years ago I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and I blogged about it in this post where Brenda Power came to visit. Then later that same year at an awesome writing retreat with Brenda, I starting applying the ideas about building habits to my writing and now I'm lucky to share some of these ideas and how they might support students writers.
I was lucky enough to share my writer's notebook in a colleague's class this week and lead her students through a discussion about what it means to be a writer. To start, I asked the students, "What does it mean to be a writer?"
And they had some amazing ideas! One student shared how writers need to have ideas - which was perfect because writer's notebooks are all about collecting ideas. We also talked about what writers write, how often they write, how much they write. I showed pictures and shared how I have my writer's eye on all the time and on the lookout for stories or story ideas all over the place.

A Habit For Free Writing
Then I modeled free writing, explaining why writers free write and setting up the structure we would be using. Before visiting their classroom, I sat down with their teacher and discussed the idea of incorporating free writing into everyday and developing the habit of sitting down to a blank piece of paper or a blank screen and being able to make something out of nothing. 

I've developed my own habit for writing that I can take anywhere and that I always have with me. Whether I'm writing at Starbucks, in my laundry room, or at the library, I prep myself to write and then pat myself on the back when I'm done. I frame my writing with two key phrases that I taught to the class. 
To start, I asked the students to say, "Bring it on, blank page!" It was great to hear fifth graders putting emotion into their voices and challenging the blank page! Then we wrote for one minute. After time was up, I asked them all to raise their hands if they had words on the page and pointed out that they did it. They made something out of nothing. That's part of what it means to be a writer. Together we said, "I can write. I am a writer. The proof is on the page."
I love both of these phrases as free writing anchors for students because they reinforce the fact that a first draft is perfect simply because it exists. Once we have something, we can go from there. This habit celebrates going from a blank page to having words on the page - simple as can be but powerful because you can't argue with the fact that there are words are there.

As the year goes on, we'll build the writing stamina and increase the time for free writes as well as offer the option to type their free writes. I can't wait to see what these students share from their notebooks the next time I visit!

Here is the Haiku Deck I used to guide our discussion and support our free writing experience in case you might find it useful.
Writer's Notebooks - Free Write - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

I've been thinking a lot about mission statements and mantras and mottos lately. Do you have any writerly mission statements, mantras, or mottos to share? I would love to hear about them!

And of course, I'm always happy to know:
What are you celebrating this week?

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