Living and Breathing our words before we write

sols_6I get it!  This morning while standing in the shower ( a great place to find ideas)  it occurred to me why authors research.    I really do know why they research but my thinking this morning was at a different level – a more personal level.  I was still musing yesterdays post about my reluctance to begin writing in new areas.  Why is this so hard?

We write what we know.  My blog posts for Words from JL are what I know.  Writing about my classroom is easy.  I live and breath that space daily.  It takes up my thinking when walking and talking with almost everyone.  So writing about teaching the day to day stuff can just slip through my finger tips and onto the page.   Easy Peasy!

Writing fiction or non fiction curriculum in not living in my head daily.  It is in the small file drawers in my brain waiting to be pulled out and investigated.   It is waiting to have new information added to it and then talked about and played with. Those ideas and words need to be lived and breathed just like my classroom blog.

It is crazy of me to think I can just sit down cold and begin to write into or on a new topic.  Writers research, explore, travel ( if only in other books) and begin to live and breath their new material.   They make scrap books, collect articles, and read and read and read.

I have sat with Debra Fraiser in her studio and gone over scrap books, journal notes, napkins with sketches, e-mails with notes and talked ideas as she was developing her picture books.  When working on Miss Alaineus her trip was into my classroom to explore how we look at vocabulary.         bk_missa_112h

So there is a simple answer to my fear and feelings of being stuck.  It is also the answer to why our students sometimes get stuck when we ask them to write in a new genre.   I know we share mentor texts, and we talk about the style of writing.  I am wondering do we give our students and our selves enough time to live and breath this new writing style?  Do we give them enough time to feel comfortable to give it a try?

I know in my classroom time seems to keep marching by way to quickly.  I can say I am sure I do not give them the time they may need.  I am not giving myself the time I need.

Writing Lesson to be learned:   when there is a feeling of being stuck, or the statement comes  “I can’t write on this.”   It might just be we are saying –  “I need to do some research, some thinking and exploring, some living and breathing this idea before the words are ready for the page.”

Note:  Debra Fraiser has great little videos on the making of pictures books at her web site.  They are one or two minutes and well done.   Great to share with students. http://www.debrafrasier.com/pages/books-events/miss-alaineus/index.php

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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5 Responses to Living and Breathing our words before we write

  1. mpistek says:

    Cant wait to hear how your research goes and then to see some “new” writing!

  2. “It is in the small file drawers in my brain waiting to be pulled out and investigated”. I think I need to open up some of my files and see what is in there. “Time to live and breath a new writing style “. That is an insightful observation which moves me into reflection. It leads me to questions which is often the beginning of deeper learning, first for me and then for my young writers.

  3. Terje says:

    I like how you connect the dots – authors, students, you – and arrive to writing lesson to be learned.

  4. Wilcox Carol says:

    Seems like you have had some huge insights since yesterday. Like Kim, I love the lines, “It is in the small file drawers in my brain waiting to be pulled out and investigated”. I think I need to open up some of my files and see what is in there. “Time to live and breath a new writing style “. And I’m impressed that you were part of Debra Frasier’s Miss Alaneius! I love that book! I can’t wait to go look at the videos!

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