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Where Writing Ideas Live by Daven Carlson

So here I am, writing a monthly column about what is absolutely the hardest thing for me about writing: finding inspiration.

Who am I to think I am one to write insightfully about that which confuzzles me with my own writing to no end?

I tell my kids (currently 108 eighth-graders) that perhaps the most challenging aspect of writing is coming up with ideas.

I should know -- I live and breathe this struggle every day as a teacher-writer.

And every day that I ask my students to write, I provide them an “idea of the day”, just in case their own free-writing is sputtering and stalling or they’re in between pieces.


Me, the Idea Guy.

How ironic.

When it comes to my own writing, boy oh boy, do I sputter and stall. I spend a lot of time not thinking of ideas, but thinking about how impossible it is to come up with ideas.

I look out across the classroom at all those fuzzy little heads bowed over notebooks, mechanical pencils scritching away, and I think: Physician, heal thyself; teacher-writer, teach yourself.

And I’ve only recently come to the realization that I’m far too hung up on the belief that I have to have an actionable idea before I can write. As in, a big idea.