Teacher as Writer: How Can We Make Time for Writing?

Slice of Life2As teachers of writers, it is important to be teachers who write. How can we make this happen?  Begin by making the act of writing a good habit. Put it on your schedule like you would schedule time for the gym or time to participate in a book club. Just be sure to set some time aside. Here, it’s important to be realistic. Perhaps start with 5 to 10 minutes to write in a writer’s notebook – an observation, a response to a quote, a description of a person or place you know well. Then you can try to add some time several days a week – work up to 20 minutes or more over the first month or so.

Where do you like to write?  Do you have a favorite spot in your house to read?  There’s probably a favorite spot to write – you may not have discovered it yet. When do you do your best writing?  Will you accomplish more in the morning or after dinner?  I still like to draft in a notebook and return to my laptop for revision and editing after the first draft is handwritten. My notebooks all have interesting covers and are spiral-bound so when I open them up, they always lie flat on my desk or table. What else will spur you on or comfort you?  A cup of hot tea?  A sweet bun? A wedge of dark chocolate?  Do you like background noise – t.v. or perhaps your i-pod playing your favorite tunes?

It’s okay to move away from your writing, but be sure to return to it. Writers need experiences and time to reflect on how they are growing and changing. Sometimes, getting up from your desk and taking a walk may be all you need to return to a piece of writing with great gusto!  Writer’s block is easily resolved by spending a good deal of time thinking about what you will write before you pick up your pen (or tap on your keyboard).  Your students will also have less problems if their first draft has already been rehearsed in their heads. And remember, you won’t love everything you write. It won’t all be good, but you’ll be exercising your writing muscles and developing a habit. That’s important!

Planning what you will write is well worth the effort. Heart maps, neighborhood maps, memory chains, and expert lists can help you get started. If you are writing a longer piece, an outline or chain of events may help you write a piece in sections. It is not always true that you start at the very beginning. When Rose Cappelli and I drafted Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, we decided to begin with our chapter on beginnings and endings, the fourth chapter in the book. We jumped around to write what was compelling to us at that time.

Set some writing goals for yourself. Plan how much you want to write by a certain date. Challenge yourself to try a new form or a new genre. Your goal may be to share your work with a peer or with your students. Perhaps you want to try to publish a best-practice article in a journal such as PAReads: The Journal of the Keystone State Reading Association. You’ll have a deadline to meet!  Try to stick with your plan and achieve your goal(s).

You can be a little selfish. Share how important your writing time has become with your family and friends. There will always be other things you could be doing instead of writing. Make your writing time sacred.  Believe in yourself. You ARE a writer. Own the title. Make it part of your identity – how you express yourself, how you show your love, how you learn about the world and about yourself. Writing is a way to tell your story. Each day is a new page to write on.

Write, Write, WRITE!


10 thoughts on “Teacher as Writer: How Can We Make Time for Writing?

  1. I need to add now to my writing schedule. Joining the March SOL challenge really got me started. Now I’m writing once a week. Over the summer I want to add more writing time. These ideas were helpful. I’m going to check out PA Reads too! Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A perfect timing post for me! I am making my summer writing notebook tomorrow along with my students and I will share this post. I always write more in the summer and this year I have not written nearly as much as I would like- I do need to get back to it and I am excited to do it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Always great suggestions! I have switched notebook preferences at different times in my writing life. Right now bullet journaling helps me stay focused on tasks that need to be accomplished. I find, too, that I prefer to write drafts and snippets, observations and thoughts in my notebook first, then mine them later for work on the computer.

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  4. Write! Right? It’s all about making a commitment to getting it down–to creating drafts (good, bad, and indifferent). Sunday’s NY Times Book Review section had a short column from John Grisham about “how to write a novel.” One of the things he said was just what you said: Write for an hour every day–at least 250 words, he said. He also suggested writing at the same time each day and in the same place each day. Are you and John Grisham friends?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It has made all the difference in my life — personally and professionally. I think a community makes all the difference for me. Choice Literacy, Slice of LIfe, Nerdy and our blog has provided a great network. Now we write with purpose and audience in mind. I don’t think I will ever go back to not writing daily. Thank you for sharing so many tips –I might add wine to the list!!

    Liked by 1 person

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