When I was in elementary school, I was awesome at long division.
Eager to demonstrate my division awesomeness, I would happily work on any long division problem my teacher would write out. The more numbers, the better. I KNEW long division and KNEW I was good at it because I got the right answer. It was pretty black and white.
Writing though? Writing was another story.
I never really felt competent as a writer in the same way that I felt about my long division skills.
I thought I was an okay writer, but not a great writer.
I didn’t know what I had to do to become great at writing in the same way that I had become great at long division.
I thought there were some secrets about how to become a great writer that I wasn’t be told. If I could just learn these secrets, it was like a switch would flip and I would instantly be a writing success.
Do you ever feel that way? Like there are secrets to writing that you are not being told so you hold back your writing life until you can figure those tips out?
How about your students? Are they looking for some insider secrets before they feel competent in their writing? Before they can say, “I am a writer”?
Well, lean in, because I’m about to share something important that I’ve discovered…
When it comes to becoming a good writer, there is no such thing as perfection. There is only progress.
Good writing happens when you write.
And write again. And again.
The more you write, the better writer you become. The more you figure out those little craft moves that make your writing better. The easier it is to recognize when a string of words sing and when they sink. (And when they sink, what you can do to save them).
Becoming a good writer means taking chances with your writing and trying new things, knowing that mistakes are okay. Because like anything else, mistakes are how we grow. (But only if we learn from them and don’t repeat them — an important lesson, especially for our students who produce writing with the same errors over and over.)
When you write a lot, you begin to hear writing in a different way — both the writing you do and the words of other writers in the books you read. You recognize when a sentence is a Golden Line. You realize how the Power of Three offers a sense of balance.
When you write a lot, you begin to think more like a reader and not just a writer. You think about what your reader will be looking for in your writing. You recognize when you need to add more and when you’ve said too much. You write sentences that flow.
Math and writing may both be taught within the same school day, but their similarities end there.
With math, there are correct answers the student is working to find. When the correct answer is found, students feel successful.
With writing, the right answers are found in the journey. Our students - and WE as teacher-writers — need to recognize this.
Don’t wait to ‘master’ writing to feel like you are a good writer because there’s really no such thing.
There is only the journey.
Take each step in your journey and celebrate that. (Celebrate your students' tiny steps too.)
Because when you do, YOU ARE A WRITER.
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