Writing is one of those things that people seem to have a love/hate relationship with.
Many of us have had a negative experience with writing in our past (the dreaded red pen, anyone?) and still foster those feelings even years later. As teachers, these feelings sink into our instruction whether we realize it or not.
What message are you sending your students about your feelings towards writing?
Good news! Even if your experience with writing in the past hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows, you can change that. There are far too many benefits to being a teacher who writes to let bad memories cloud the possibilities of today.
If you need a little help getting started with changing your feelings towards writing, consider these five tips:
1. Quiet your inner critic: Focus for a minute on that little voice inside your head that talks to you while you're writing. What is it telling you? Is it being helpful or harmful? Is it time to tell it to mind its own business and be quiet? Whenever you hear that voice nagging at you, don't listen to it. That's just fear talking. Fear recognizes that you are leaving your comfort zone and it doesn't like it so it tries to convince you that you are doing something wrong. The result? You stop writing and fear wins.
2. Stop judging: Acknowledge writing for what it is -- words on paper. It does not have to be labeled as either 'good' or 'bad.' They are just that -- words. Stop saying "I'm a bad writer." The only way to be a bad writer is to stop writing.
3. Find your community: Writing, by its very nature, is a solitary act. But there is a huge, friendly community of other teacher-writers out there who are thriving through their connections with each other and are always looking for new writing friends. You can find them in lots of places, but I recommend joining the Teach Write Community on Facebook, in Twitter chats, or on blog gatherings such as the Slice of Life Challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Looking for a writing group? Join one of our Time to Write! Online Writing Workshops.
4. Start small: We often get overwhelmed when we think too big. You don't have to publish a book to call yourself a writer, you just have to write. Start by telling yourself that you will write for just 10 minutes a day -- then do it. Pretty soon, you will begin craving this writing time and looking for more opportunities to write.
5. Choose your tools: Use what works for you. If you prefer to type, then type. If you are a handwritten sort of person, then get a good journal and some fun pens and have at it. Maybe you want to do both -- type and write. So do it. YOU are the one who sets the rules.
The more you learn to enjoy the act of writing, the better writing teacher you will become. Change IS possible!
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