Story Starters, Prompts & Quick Writes ~ SOL#19 ~ Day#5

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It seems like Twitter is flooded with lots of educators asking questions lately; teachers needing resources for a unit, books around a certain topic, or a lesson to teach something. I recently came across a tweet requesting prompts for journal entries for a class because the students didn’t have anything to write about.

My inner writing soul whispered, “Teach them to notice the world.”

Mary Oliver said it best, “Pay Attention. Be Astonished. Tell About it.”

What if we just modeled and taught our students what awareness was and what that looks like, sounds like and feels like? Writers have strategies to help them pay attention to the world around them, and I think that we can teach these as strategies or triggers and call them as such, rather than the latter, to get something down on the page. Awareness is a habit of mind that can be cultivated over time – every day – so that after a couple of weeks, we can just say, “Write for 20 minutes,” and students will be able to grab something because, hopefully, they have been paying attention, or else they can choose a strategy to get them started. If our goal is writing independence, wouldn’t we want them finding writing topics on their own instead of us having to provide them?

Lynda Barry’s tool for teaching students (and myself) to be more aware is pretty effective. Seriously, used daily for a week or so activates the senses to no end.  Character sketches can happen constantly because people are everywhere and people are interesting. Really see someone, pay attention to their character and who they are. We write from big wonderings or noticings when we read books, listen to music or podcasts, or pay attention to the happenings going on in our world. Most of the time, if we are truly aware, just paying attention to the voices that are constantly talking in our mind should give us enough content for life.

I’ve also learned how important it is to take a good line from one of those awareness entries, just a line and to write from that, following whatever path unfolds, to find our way to new discoveries (Donald Murray taught me this). This, too, takes practice. And, modeling. Scary modeling it is, because it’s authentic and you don’t know where it will lead. Once I modeled this for my third graders starting with the smell of burnt toast and ended up writing about how it reminded me of my grandmother’s house and pretty soon I was a puddle. Geez. 28 kids sat there mesmerized. They wanted to try it.

Awareness and discovery. I really think that’s the meat of what keeps me writing.

Well, this wasn’t really a Slice of Life, but Twitter started it.

I just followed the thread.

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March 2019 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. 🙂 To read the posts of other Slicers, please go here.

Why Are We Here? ~ SOL#2019~ Day 1

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Here we are. Again.

But why? Our days are full. Our plates are full. Our minds are full. Adding one more thing feels impossible.

After spending an hour reading the posts of others who have committed 31 days of their writing lives to share with the world, it was evident as to what brings us here.

Some writing friends feel the nudge through the energy of others, feeling a pull to connect with like-minded-teacher-writer-soul-sisters. We work in places where perhaps others do not write or wish to write, nor do they understand why in the world we would WANT to write. We are all writers here. Join in and hold hands. High five!

Some writing friends are carrying pain, dreariness and are walking through sludge at this time of year. Whether they or a loved one is going through difficult times, or maybe  just feeling the pressures and stress of our vocation that March brings, we know someone here will understand and lift us up. There is connection here. If a writer is hurting, we all open up and feel her heart. Grab a tissue because tears will be shed.

Some writing friends have been asleep at the wheel. Attuned to the spin cycle in the mind and neglecting the gifts the world puts before us. A sharpened writing mind takes us out of our craziness and into the present. We crave this awareness of the world – of others – and the wonder of living as a human. This sense of awe is what keeps us alive and brings bliss to our souls.

Some writing friends have not been writing and wish for a cultivated habit of coming to the page each day. They realize they have not been story-catching the moments of their existence. Fear sets in. How will anyone know we were ever here on this planet without the snippets of a life well-lived left behind? A SOL challenge will get that stuff down.

For me, it’s all of this. Connection. Well-being. Community. Awareness. Story-catching.

But, mostly, it’s because of the mystery of not knowing where I’ll end up. Each writing journey starts with a line and ends up somewhere else. It’s like a present I give myself each day. A good writing friend once told me it’s the surprise in the next line that becomes the writer’s addiction.  Or, maybe that was Donald Murray. 🙂

And,the best part? Writing is free.

Words are free! All of them! Even the long ones!

Not the notebooks, though. . . and the pens. . . and the books. . . and the cookies I need to eat to keep me writing. . .

But the words? Yeah. They’re free.

Why would anyone NOT want to write?

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March 2019 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. 🙂

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye To Another Notebook ~ SOL #5 ~2017

Another notebook is nearly full. My goal is to fill a notebook a month. Yes, there are notebooks that adorn my shelves and fill baskets everywhere. What am I to do? I have a lot to say.

Mixed feelings stir inside me when the ending of a notebook is near. Melancholy. A sadness that the journey with this notebook is over, yet excitement to begin with a new one. I grieve for a while as the old notebook is set aside and eventually stored in a basket or on a shelf.

It must be hard for the notebook to understand.

Seriously? You have no idea.

Excuse me? I reply to the voice.

You carry me around with you everywhere for a solid month or more.  I give you my pages and they accept everything your pen scribbles into me. I never whine or complain. So patient, I am. Waiting and waiting for your words.  Oh so grateful when your hand finally reaches for my spine in the mornings. Everything I give — you complete me and then. . . I’m set aside. . . like a one night stand.

Oh, Dear Notebook of Mine,

That is not how it is.  I treasure you! My heart fills with anguish the closer I get to the last of your pages, knowing that soon – I have to let you go – and begin again.

It doesn’t feel that way to me.  I see all those other notebooks tucked away in baskets and stacked on your shelves.  Forgotten – for years.  In a day or two, that will be me.

Oh, Dear Notebook of Mine,

You are correct.  I’m so sorry.  But – I do visit you from time to time, rereading your pages, reliving the joys we spent together.

That’s not enough.  I am meaningless sitting in a basket.  I want to be used.

But, that is not true, Dear Notebook. It could not be further from the truth.  You contain pieces of me that no human in this world has.  You hold my history – the stories of me.  I give you ALL of me.

Well. . . .

You are my safest place, Dear Notebook.  I trust you to hold these tender stories and keep them safe.  Forever, if need be.  You have such a responsibility – all the gems I’ve given you – a treasure box you are.  And just like treasures that are sometimes buried or lost at sea for millions of years, so must you.

Millions of years? I don’t have that much time.

But, you must.  It is an honor to be a notebook and house history.  One day, I will be gone, but you will still be here, carrying all that I was, you help me to live on – for my children and grandchildren. You are that carrier, the link, the sweet nectar of my humanness.  Tending to these stories is a privilege bestowed to you.

I’m sorry . . . I guess I didn’t realize.

It’s quite alright, Dear Notebook, you are young and want to be the center of attention for a little while longer.  I understand.  Once you are with the other notebooks, you will become wise.  You will learn of your importance.

Okay. I will try to understand.  And, be more patient.  I will.  I promise.

You, Dear Notebook, are the Keeper of the Flame for this short period of my life – January 22nd to March 5th of 2017.  Only YOU alone holds this part of me.  You need to guard it with your life.

Yes, I will.  I am honored to be this protector of your history.  But. . . when will you come back and visit me? I don’t know any of those other notebooks, even.

I may – I may not. Even so – be willing to live on.  The other notebooks are your friends.

Yes, yes. . . I must. . . I will.  Thank you.  Thank you so much for giving me your heart – your soul. For trusting me.  I understand now.  Good bye, dear friend. . . until we meet again.

Good bye, dear friend as well.  And, thank you, for waiting for me each day and greeting me with your open arms.

I love you.

And, I love you.

Well geez.

Here I sit. . . in tears. . . saying good by to a notebook.  Did I just say, “I love you?”.  . to my notebook?

Good heavens.  What has become of me.

I am grateful I am home alone today.

Shari 🙂

Mysteriously, this song came on my Pandora station as I finished this post:

I love it when my angels do that. 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March Challenge of posting a blog post every day for the month of March.  To check out other writers, visit here.