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Living the Life of a Teacher-Author by Shannon Anderson

I am a teacher-writer, a teacher of writers, and a published author. Lately, I feel like I’m writing on a roller coaster.

I’ve experienced the nervous anticipation of climbing the steep publishing hills and the exhilaration of signing book contracts.

As a teacher and author, it’s not easy to balance teaching full time, writing, and speaking. When you have a family on top of that, the hours in a day seem to evaporate.

Writing a book is like waiting in that looooong line for the roller coaster:

  • It takes forever to write the book.

  • You take years learning about the publishing process.

  • It takes months to find an editor to offer a contract.

  • You work on editing for weeks.

  • You spend countless days figuring out how to market the book.

You finally get to the day of your book launch and…just like hear the hiss of the brakes and the roller coaster ride is over all too quickly.

It is a glorious feeling to experience, but if you want to go again, you have to get back into that long line. There are no “fast passes.”

This coming year, I have been blessed with several new books coming out. The thrill of the possibilities made me wonder what it would be like to take a sabbatical leave from teaching for a year to speak and write full time.

I’ve taught for 25 years, and I LOVE teaching. It seemed only fitting though, to give my writing a fair chance too. I requested the leave, it was granted, and I was BEYOND excited.

That was in January. I think you know where this is going...

Enter the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Although my books are all still coming out, speaking engagements have been canceled. Book launch parties can only be virtual and signings won’t happen any time soon. My dreams to travel and talk were met with a huge, “This ride is temporarily closed!” sign.

In the past, my life was all about teaching my heart out and splurging on writing time whenever I could steal away some hours. Now the opposite is true.

I’m writing my heart out and teaching part-time online when I can steal away some hours. What am I teaching? Mostly about writing!

Although this roller coaster has taken me on many twists and turns leading up to and through this pandemic, I’ve found this to be true...trying new rides is important.

In many ways, they all have the same elements:

  • Fast and slow speeds

  • Surprises

  • Ups and downs

  • Twists and turns

  • Anticipation

  • Risk

Know of anything else like that? The art of teaching and writing have these too. Many have asked me if I regret the risk I took in taking the sabbatical leave. The truth is, I won’t know until I get off the ride.

Right now, I’m enjoying the surprises in the form of opportunities that have come up because I took the risk and climbed on board in the first place. I’m still getting to do what I love...writing and teaching.

I’m harnessed in.

My lapbar is my laptop.

The click, click, click of the coaster is my fingers on the keys.

I’m heading down the tracks, wondering where I’ll go.

Life is already upside down.

Will I scream? Raise up my arms? Close my eyes? Hold on with white knuckles?

I think I’ll lean in and enjoy the ride and the adventures that await.

If nothing else, I’ll have a lot to write about and teach others when the park closes. For now, I’m making the most of my season pass.


Shannon Anderson is an award-winning teacher, author, and national speaker. She was named one of the Top 10 Teachers by the Today Show in 2019 and served as the Regional Advisor for the Indiana SCBWI for 4 years. Shannon’s upcoming books include Y is for Yet, Mindset Power, Too Shy to Say Hi, and A Deed a Day. Learn more about Shannon or her books at

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