Day 2 – Slice of Life: Beginning – choosing tools

images.jpg“Choose your tools carefully, but not so carefully that you get uptight and spend more time in the stationery store than at your writing table.”

N. Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones (1986)

Natalie Goldberg in her first chapter speak of pens, notebooks, writing tables and time picking out the right tools. Oh, I remember doing that – lots of time looking at notebooks and journals. I took lots of time thinking about pens, pencils or typing.  I spent more time picking out materials then writing. The tools of a writer were easier to deal with than the writing.

I now have many, many notebooks that are started but not finished. My lack of focus and drive to deal with the hard work of writing was hidden in my dealing with materials. It was easy to say “this notebook has to hard a cover, it is to large, I would prefer to have little squares to write over, I need a different pen, or a pencil would be a better tool today.” Any think could distract me from putting words on paper – I was off to the office supply store.

Now I am here with my computer – no decision about paper, notebook size or type of writing tool. I know that I can get side tracked by little things like font, or do I write in Wordpress or my One Note journal but I have learned my lesson as Natalie says  -don’t spend so much time with tools that you forget you are suppose to be writing.

It brings me to my students past and present ( I was just doing a writing test with 3rd grader ELL students yesterday) who were/are using the same technique to avoid writing. They started with lots of questions – “Didn’t I see you in the hall yesterday?”  “Why do you always carry your computer with you?” on to “I can’t use this pencil is it not sharp enough.”

We are all (well most of us) avoiders of the blank page. We need to prime the pump, gather our ideas and then put our seats in the chair and write. It really is about showing up and doing the work.

This leads us all to our month long challenge – a push to show up and do the work!

We are on day two of doing the work!

What do you use to keep your self or your students writing?

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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9 Responses to Day 2 – Slice of Life: Beginning – choosing tools

  1. Sonja Schulz says:

    I can so relate to this post! I, too, have a large number of half-full journals. Here’s to March and finding our daily writing habit despite these master procrastinator techniques!

  2. Missy says:

    So many half-full (or barely started) journals sitting around my house and classroom. The work is in many places, and sometimes it’s a good reminder that “did not finish” is better than “never started.” Thank you for the reminder of how this relates back to our students.

  3. Tara Smith says:

    In some ways, my writing habits improved once I went digital – I love the sensory feel of pens and paper, but not have to fuss with all that focused me more. Here’s to the next March days of SOLC!

  4. Ramona says:

    I’m a master of empty notebooks. I have so many and my perfectionistic self is fearful of writing in them. I have to admit that I truly prefer writing on the computer unless it’s poetry. Then I need the written page to find that phrase that I crossed out and now want back again. But notebooks, I still love them for collecting ideas. I’m trying to keep one in all the places where I might have an idea. Happy slicing, Joanne!

    • Joanne Toft says:

      I like the idea of my notebooks being idea books – a much better way to use them. I have little ones I carry in my backpack but maybe I will use all those half used notebooks for awhile. Enjoy the month of writing.

  5. arjeha says:

    I agree with what Tara said. Even though I use my laptop for most of the writing I do there is something about the feel of a pen/pencil and a piece of paper and watching yourself form the letters and the words. Kind of like book vs e-reader.

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