As a kid I remember wanting a diary. The little book with a lock and key. I was told this was a place I could write all my secrets and tell all my stories. My older sister had one and I wanted one too.
It seemed like years before I had my very own diary. I am guessing I got one so I would quit trying to open my sisters. I have to be honest here my interest in this small book was more about the lock and key then the book itself.
Once I had this book in hand and I had spent lots of time locking and unlocking it I sat down to write. Well, I tried. I could think of no secrets to share with my diary. I had stories to tell but writing them was so hard. I was a student who struggled with words, spelling and grammar. (The word dyslexia might have been a good description of me then.)
I carried my diary everywhere but put little in it. I told stories to my Mother and she always said go write them down. I never did. It was a task to large to hard to do. As I grew older I left my little book in the drawer with a few odd sentences in it.
As an adult I start a Journal – now just a notebook where I could write my thoughts. I bought lots of them – different colors, lines and no lines, different sizes using different colored pens. I have tons of them on my book shelf. Some have lots of writing in them – others not so much. There was no habit of writing.
Now I am in my 60’s. I wish I could have focused and filled all those journals. I have stories and bits of stories in so many of them. I have lost track of events, people and thoughts because I didn’t write them down. I am famous for the line “oh this was so important or fun I will remember it!” You know how that goes.
So now I am on to a new adventure in diaries. I am using One Note on my computer to write just that – one note a day. My new goal is to write each day just one or two things that went on. No big stories, no secrets just happenings of the day – they do not need to be events that need to be remembered. This is about building a habit of writing daily. Just one sentence!
Somewhere long ago I needed support to build that habit of daily writing. My jumping from activity to activity, book to book, and story to story did not serve me well. So now I am taking it one step at a time – one or two sentences at a time.
This is something I wish my teachers had helped me with and I share it now as we think about our writing workshop in the classrooms this fall. What can we do as teachers to help support that daily observation and writing? Maybe students could write just a sentence or two at the end of the day or the beginning of the day?
I write my blog posts (now on Monday and Tuesday), and I am working on a novel but I can’t seem to write the little daily observations. I wonder how much farther I would be in my novel writing if I had found the support to hold me to writing what I saw or did each day. The building of a writing habit is so important.
I am working on the one sentence a day idea – on my computer when I check my e-mail each morning. I am hooking my new habit of writing to an old habit of checking my e-mail. I am putting down one sentence about what happened yesterday. It is one sentence – not a story – just one observation from the day. Building a habit takes time and so linking it with an activity that I already do can support me as I build this new one.
Have you thought about how you built your writing habit? Do you have a writing habit? How do you help students build their own daily writing habit?