Sunday, July 15, 2018

Teachers Write Weekly Check In #1

Hi, friends!

I'm so excited to hear about your first week of Teachers Write!

This post is up a bit late because I've been writing and writing and writing. 

We went to a family party last night and all I could think about was getting back to my story. Has that happened to you yet? I find that when I'm really in the zone, I just want to write more and more.

And isn't this what we hope our students will do?

I'd like to say it's in me. That writing is just something I do. 

But it's not. Writing is a habit I've developed over time. I made a commitment to writing a novel in 2011 and I stuck with that. Since then I've set goals for myself and set aside time and made writing something I do. And because I know it's something I do, I live like a writer. I'm not necessarily looking for stories as much as paying attention to life. 

Which brings me to my first writer teacher advice for the summer.

We hope that Teachers Write encourages you to develop your own writing habits but when school starts again, you'll be the lead learner in your classroom. You'll share and model writing as a habit but also make sure your students have consistent writing time to do the same.

Writing, similar to reading, is important to do daily. You and your students will become better writers because you're practicing. You're sitting down to get your thoughts out, you're composing more, and knowing this, you're brain will start to know what to expect. 

Don't get me wrong. There are times when I sit down at my computer and need to look out the window or when words don't come. But that's part of it too. The idea is that day after day I write. And then when one day the words don't come, it's not a catastrophe. It was just a day when I needed to read instead or talk with a friend or go for a walk for some inspiration. 

But it all starts with a commitment to write. If you are a teacher of writing, you must also make this commitment to writing for your students. They must have time to write everyday. Not assigned, teacher-driven writing. There will be work to do of course to encourage students to write and nudge their writing along but the simplest way to start is to find specific writing time everyday and commit to keeping it sacred. 

If you're here, then you probably have some kind of writing habit going...whether you realize it or not. My friend Marcie wakes up early and writes before going to work every morning. I sneak in time wherever I can but I usually think about where it will fit into my day. 

Take a few minutes to think about your writing this summer and please share what your writing life looked like this week. Reflect on whether it worked for you or not and whether your brain has started to collect ideas because it knows it's going to write or not. 

This week, I didn't have much time to write because I was at Nerdcamp in Michigan but I did set aside Friday morning to meet with a friend so I could really focus and zone in. I write most days at home but I love finding a coffee shop to write if I can. This happens to be Unicorn Cafe in Evanston and it was perfect.

I can't wait to hear how everything is going! Happy writing!!!

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.

Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)
What did your writing routine or habits look like this week?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!


  1. Hi! I didn't write much this week because I was camping near Shenandoah National Park. On the ride home, though, I caught up with this week's Teachers Write posts, though! I was really hoping to find some time to write at our campsite, but there was too much fun activity - hiking, biking, rafting, EATING. So I gave myself some grace and daydreamed a lot instead.

    This week, however, I really hope to buckle down and get some solid hours in. My plan is to wake early, before everyone else, and put in a couple hours of writing. Then, in the afternoon, I will sit on my sunny deck (or at my dad's pool) with the kids and hopefully catch up on some summer reading.

    1. You have made beautiful memories in a beautiful location!! Enjoy time this week to reflect and capture those memories.

    2. I love that you gave yourself some grace! It's important to soak up life. I always get good ideas for writing when I'm hanging out with my family. Writing on a sunny deck sounds awesome! I love sitting outside to write. Enjoy!

  2. Hi, Jen, and thanks for hosting us each Sunday to check in. It's great to be back at TW. This week was a tough writing week, as I continued to struggle with what form my WIP will take. I was sick for a couple of days, so I wrote nothing, but then on Saturday, I was catching up, and I read Gae and Nora's Friday Feedback post. How is it that TW always seems to give me what I need when I'm ready to receive it?

    Off of school in the summer, I write my most diligently at our cottage on Torch Lake, Michigan. This summer, I was planning to focus on researching my history with my 88 year old mother. It turns out that one year can make a big difference with the elderly. She really doesn't remember much of my childhood at this point, so I will have to rely on memory and siblings and cousins to help me fill in the blanks. That realization was difficult to swallow, but it was also liberating.

    Reading Nora's post about writing memoir hit a cord with me, and I feel like I am off to the races. I started writing in scenes, as opposed to a timeline structure. I feel like I can piece them all together after I have a shitty first draft of each important event. I am so grateful for the TW community each year. I always learn something new. Thank you!

    1. I love the idea of writing memoir and working with you family to write down memories. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and feel like I need to talk to my parents about things they remember too. Have you heard of Story Corps? They have an app that allows you to record and share interviews. It's pretty fun and might be something neat to try. And it's funny that you talk about timeline because as I'm finishing up my YA, I totally jumped to the last chapter and now I have to go back and connect it to everything else. Just follow your heart!

  3. Hey Jen,
    Thanks for doing this. Love Teachers Write. I learned so much this week and can’t wait to apply to my writing and with my library students. This summer I am querying my fantasy novel and plotting a new WIP. I got some character sketches down and some scenes so feel real excited about that. Also been reading a lot. So it was a good week. Next week I start off at the dentist­čśĽ hope everyone has a good week!

    1. Hi Martha! Good luck with querying! I already plotted out the novel I'm hoping to draft this summer. Do you have a favorite way to outline? I've used the beats from Save the Cat before and more recently tried a 27-point outline. I do character sketches too. For me, the characters are so important. Hope the dentist goes well!

  4. I didn't have any particular goal this week except to not start a new book before writing a review for the one I've finished immediately prior, and I managed to stick to that!

    I basically checked the #TeachersWrite blog and participated when I felt it relevant to me. I admit I'm struggling with some of the prompts because they ask me to reference or use my MC and I'm not writing any story or anything. I'd feel disingenuous creating a character just to use for exercises and want to save that effort for a true character of mine if I ever decide to write a story. (And as a mom to a toddler that I barely see during the school year, I'm choosing to invest my summer otherwise). But, the prompts aren't going anywhere, so there's always that, and I appreciate the thinking they create and have been happy with the ones I feel I CAN answer. So, in short, I answer #TeachersWrite in the morning and review a book at midnight ��

    Pit this week... Midnight coughing sessions that I can't get rid of. No other symptoms.

    Peak of this week... Other than my time with my family, reading THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON by Quinn Sosna-Spear. It really hit me emotionally.

    Next week, I'm planning on getting some cleaning done and I have a PD on gamification that I'm looking forward to! Also, I brought tons of books home from my classroom to read ��

    1. Oops, no emotes. They were a laughing face and a heart, respectively.

    2. Hi Vi! It sounds like you are balancing reading and writing and I think that's great! I believe reading gives us insight into what another author has done and it can influence our writing. My older son has been telling me I need to write a story about him. Maybe you can use your son/daughter as a character and write little vignettes about them. That way you're using your creative muscles but maybe even coming up with stories to tell them. :)

    3. That's a great idea, thanks!

  5. Thank you so much for hosting the Sunday check-in!
    This was a productive week. I’m closing in on 5,000 words on one project and I’ve stuck with this project. Sometimes, that voice that tells me that the writing is not very good chime in and I find that I listen and drop projects without hanging on and working through the difficult times. My goal this summer has been to ignore that voice and so far, I’ve been able to do that.

    I’m also working on some academic writing and I haven’t been as successful with that. I’ve been deep in research, but my notebook is filled with lots of scribbled thoughts that haven’t yet coalesced. I have a broad idea for a practitioner-focused article, but it’s still developing.

    I wrote a lot late at night this week, which has been my habit since school ended. However, I’m thinking ahead to how my writing schedule will need to adapt. This week, I’ll be out of town for ILA and I don’t want to lose the momentum that I’ve built. Then, in just a couple of weeks, I’ll be back at school and writing at 1:00 in the morning isn’t going to be the best plan.

    I think that the pit of my week has been the lack of focus for my practitioner article. The peak of my week has been the MG manuscript and getting a lot accomplished with that piece of writing. The main character is becoming more and more real in my mind as I get to know her. I hope to learn more about her this week and to solidify my thoughts for the article.

    1. Jennifer, 5,000 words is not a small feat! That's amazing!!! Definitely something to celebrate! I hear you on feeling bummed about not getting to other projects. I have picture book ideas I want to get drafted but I didn't have any time for them this week. The good thing is that they'll be there. :)

  6. Yay for the Sunday check-in!

    I had a very productive week. It's the only week of the summer when both of my kids were at camp, so I got to be a full-time writer. I made huge strides on my novel revision, but also noticed really how much I still have left to do.

    I am teaching at a writing camp this next week. My days will be really busy 8:00-5:00 (and a few nights until 9:00pm). I'm excited to work with these high school writers, but I'm also a little bit overwhelmed with how much I have left to do with my novel. I'm going to do my 5:00am writing time every morning because it's the only way I'll still be able to keep going.

    1. Gah, I always feel like there's so much left to do. I've been chugging away at my revision but I forget how much time it will take. Three cheers for 5:00 am writing. That's awesome! And have fun at camp!

  7. Thanks for hosting this check in, Jen. I am focusing primarily on poetry these days, so some of the prose prompts don't work for me, but I took Justina Ireland's prompt and had my character imagine her life 100 years from her birth.
    I understand what you mean about not being able to think about anything else. I received some new research on my project and couldn't rest until I had written about it.
    My summer writing routine is more scattered than I had hoped it would be. I am keeping at it daily, though, in one way or another. I'm curious about what is in store for this week.

    1. Hooray for poems! I love the idea of a poem about a character imagining her life 100 years from her birth. That sounds really cool. I wish my life wasn't as scattered as it is...but I've decided to embrace it and enjoy the fact that we have time to be flexible and go with the flow. :)

  8. Hi, Jen!

    Unicorn Cafe - How fun? It sounds like the perfect place to write a story. I am a sucker for stories about unicorns and mermaids (I am currently reading the newest Emily Windsnap). I will also write that I am super jealous that you were at NerdCamp in Michigan. That exact camp is on my list of must-do reading and writing vacations (family vacations have got in the way this summer, but we've had some fun trips).

    I have no idea how many times your post has hit home with my own writing. This summer, I am writing for school. I am writing short stories and documenting my journey to share with my students. During writer's workshop, I am on my feet trying to get to every student (I had 26 this year) for assistance and guidance. I am documenting the strategies utilized, the obstacles, and the successes I've had with plot development and descriptive/figurative language. The best part is that I'll have a handful of stories to share with my students.:)

    This week will be a struggle. I am working at a track and field camp, so I'll be writing at any and all of my free opportunities. Unfortunately, with the busy evenings, I am not confident that I'll get a ton of writing accomplished.

    Good luck with your writing this week!


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