The other day, it took me 3 hours to write/revise/edit/publish a blog post on my Literate Mind blog. It was only a book review, for Pete’s Sake. I DID have some internet issues and my typical distraction problems. Seriously, though. I’m spending way too much time trying to create some words and put them out there for the world. I have dishes to wash. Laundry. Rooms to declutter.
So, I got out my notebook and did some serious reflecting. I asked myself the question that I have began to ask myself with every blog post.
“Why am I doing this? Why should I blog? What are the benefits of this? Am I nuts?”
Boy, did my pen have something to say. Words began to flood onto the page.
Here are 5 reasons (of the many) of why I blog:
1. I am a teacher.
Not only do I teach kids how to write, but I work with teachers in guiding them to be teachers of writing. The first must of a writing teacher is that the writing teacher must be a writer. A pilot instructor would have to know how to fly planes, right?
I’ve always scribbled words in notebooks, diaries, and journals. I’ve written in front of kids to model writing workshop lessons. I wrote. But, still, I did not call myself a writer. Only real authors could declare themselves a writer and wear that title. Here I was, a teacher for 20+ years and a literacy coach and still, I could not call myself a writer. Was I worried this was vain? Did I fear others would think I was lying? They would surely ask me what I had written if I said I was a writer. And then, judge it, of course. Ugh. All of this was just too risky.
What a hypocrite, I was.
Then, in 2012, I signed up for a free e-course by Jeff Goins, called YOU ARE A WRITER. Jeff taught me how to say these words:
“You are a writer.”
“Say them out loud,” he said.
“Write them down.”
” Tell someone.”
So I did.
And, so I was.
The blog was born as a result of claiming I was a writer. Jeff said that if you are a writer, you have to start acting like one. This meant sharing your writing and building a community.
I guess I had to follow through if I was going to say I was a writer.
2. More valuable that any writing program, I have curriculum to draw from within my own experiences.
I’m in the trenches with the kids and other teachers of writing when I blog.
Mem Fox, in her book, Radical Reflections, writes:
“Teachers of writing who have been soldiers themselves, engaged in a writing battle, are able to empathize more closely with the comrades in their classrooms than teachers who are merely war correspondents at the hotel bar, as it were, watching the battle from a safe distance, declining to get in there themselves and write.”
I didn’t want to be a teacher who sat at the bar, too afraid to practice what I was preaching.
I now know what kids and teachers go through when they try to write. The fear. The frustration. The battle. This battle can not come when we keep our writing hidden from others, in a notebook. Notebook writing is easy, as this is first draft writing or jotting down ideas. It becomes real when we know we are writing for someone other than ourselves. Then, we have roll up our sleeves, get dirty and then, clean it up.
I can teach how I find ideas to write by sharing what I do: noticing what’s happening around me, the words others’ say, topics I deeply care about. I can teach how to write that perfect lead, because I wrestle with it and have a few tools for this along with some favorite leads from mentor texts. I can draw from my toolbox, a lesson that teaches others how to edit for themselves and I can model my methods for this, because I’ve done it myself.
I stand on the shoulders of writing teachers; Donald Murray, Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins and Katie Wood Ray. They are my guides. Basically, nothing I teach is my own idea – these methods came from someone before me.
I’ve used their methods, tried them out and have internalized them as my own methods now. Will they work for every writer? No. I read, listen to other writers and to the kids of how they write and their methods get thrown in my toolbox, as well.
My own toolbox is more valuable that any writing curriculum. No writing curriculum is perfect as it leaves out the most important factor: the kids. If it’s all you have to follow in the teaching of writing, you will be frustrated. And, I can draw from my own toolbox at anytime, anywhere. If one tool doesn’t work, I try another. I’ve tried them all, so they are etched in who I am as a writer.
3. I’m starting to live my life differently because of my blog.
I notice things with meaning and get it down. I take time to reflect on, not only events, but on my response to them. I nudge myself to reflect deeper, to get to the other side, to allow new learning to bubble up, something of significance and to make it clear for me to understand. I do this for me, but more so, for my audience (even if it is only my mother – thanks, Mom).
A car trip, a walk in the woods, shopping at the grocery store, sitting at the lake, and visiting with people are all free fodder for writing. I find myself thinking not only, “I’ve got to write this down,” but also, “Oh my, I need to write this for ______.”
If I need to write clearly for an audience to understand my thinking, I’d better be pretty clear of it myself.
I could not have done this without a blog.
4. Blogging has been an avenue in which to use the tool of writing to serve my higher purpose.
I don’t think that writing is a purpose or a calling. It’s just a tool to use. If you are called to teach? Write. Called to heal? Write. Called to inspire? Write. Called to serve, help others, beautify the world, create, coach, energize, collaborate? Then, write, write, write. There is no better tool that can reach more people than writing. But, only if you put it out there for the world.
5. It just feels good.
There is a sense of accomplishment and surge of satisfaction I feel every time I hit publish. I am jolted with a little shot of dopamine upon seeing those words, “Your post has been published.”
And, then, I do a little happy dance.
Getting it down is the easy part. Revision and editing is hard work. Never, would I revise and edit in my notebooks. Blogging makes you do this.
I’ve had to learn to choose timely topics and ones that matter. I’ve had to figure out how to stick to a topic and focus. I tend to stray in my notebooks, but I can’t do that on a blog.
I strive to find ways to improve in my craft by reading books about writing, joining some writing groups online and taking classes about writing. I know what I struggle with in my writing and have learned to appreciate criticism. Always, I can get better at this.
When we know more, we do better and we gain confidence.
And, this just feels good.
Okay ~ I guess the rewards are worth the battle. Whew.
The only drawbacks are that my house is a mess. But, it was a mess before I started blogging, so I guess I can’t use that as an excuse.
Maybe I should blog about that.
What are the reasons you blog? Please, let me know.