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Tag Archives: Writing process

A blog about writing

I’ve let this blog lapse for many months due to lack of focus. Babystepstowriting started as a practice blog, a place for me to be writing while I was teaching writing. I published prompts we did in class, or followed prompts online, or sometimes wrote about daily life.

However, I’ve learned over the years from other bloggers, that what works best is a consistent theme or purpose.

Therefore this blog will more closely reflect its name, and babystepstowriting will be about all things writing. I’ll share what I’m learning, reading, and writing. I’ll also gather resources to help other writers. Together we can learn and grow in our practice.

Starting with what my writing life looks like lately:

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I finally finished Stephen King‘s On Writing and highly recommend it. Ironically, I have been unable to get through a Stephen King book – horror isn’t really my style. However, no one can argue that he has mastered the craft and his genre. The book is equal parts autobiography and sound writing advice from creating the discipline to believable characters to careful editing and much more.

Another part of my practice lately has been longhand writing. I used to love nothing more than to grab a notebook and my favorite pens (two things I always seem to buy whether I need them or not) and write and write and write. I’ve been using the daily prompts from Sarah Salecky and Story Is a State of Mind.

And finally, after all these years of longing for an MFA, I’M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!! This fall I’ll be taking the Story Intensive Course from The Story Is a State of Mind School. I’ve had such wonderful feedback and support already and can’t wait to delve into the program.

What does your writing life look like? Leave me a comment below 🙂

Happy writing!

 

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I didn’t learn to write in school

Are we failing students in the way we teach writing?

We have the new Common Core with a stronger emphasis on writing. We have more options than I can count on how to teach the Five Paragraph Essay. We assign creative essays, literary responses, and research papers, but are the students really learning how to write and what the writing process requires?

Let me show you how I approached writing assignments in school:

  • Essay assigned – due in two weeks
  • Ugh! I have to write a paper. At least I have two weeks
  • 1 week later a fellow student asks if I have started my paper…I haven’t
  • 5 days before due date…I better start thinking about that paper
  • 4 days before due date…if research is required, make trip to library and gather required sources
  • 3 days before due date…pull out assignment and look it over
  • 2 days before due date….read/skim whatever material is required in order to write paper.
  • night before due date…commence writing paper, pull all-nighter if necessary.
  • Due date…read/edit paper and fix obvious mistakes
  • Turn in paper
  • Receive grade
  • never look at essay again

78a728fbf134373ba398c69128fdd25aThis worked fairly well for me and got me through high school and college with respectable GPA’s but it didn’t teach me how to write. It taught me how to compile sources and arrange thoughts in paragraphs in order to earn a grade.

The more I study eloquent writers and their writing processes and the more time I spend writing, I realize there are many things I never learned about writing. My procrastination driven college writing process only ever produced a first draft that was turned in and graded.

Here is the sad truth: I don’t know how to go about the tedious work of revision. The act of taking a machete to what I have written and chopping it up until only the best bits remain. Of then taking those best bits and reaching into the depths of my creativity to add to the manuscript using those as my foundation. This is possibly the most important part of the writing process that I entirely skipped over under the false pretense that my first finished draft was good enough.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) it was good enough to earn a respectable grade and move on, but it didn’t teach me how to write. Now granted, there are certain types of academic writing that once you learn the formula, you plug in the information and voila! Instant essay! But as far as publishable creative essays or fiction writing? Not even close.

How do I not fail my students in this area? I have them write frequently because we all know that to be a better writer you need to write all the time. But, as is common with curriculum, we complete a writing assignment for a unit of study and move on. Should I assign fewer writing assignments and spend more time on them going through the whole writing and revising process with my students?

I would love to hear from other writers and teachers regarding how you approach this in your classrooms.

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Process

There is never enough time for reading and writing. Maybe someday I will sit in my study, no scratch that, I prefer a wood-paneled two-story library with a skylight and rolling ladder. Someday I will sit in my library surrounded by books, magazines, papers and a laptop and read and write to my heart’s content (or until my husband feels severely neglected). Maybe someday I will even pursue a Master’s degree. But today is not that day….

Today I teach two courses, raise four children, and support my husband in his ministry. When I do find the occasional day to read and write, I’m continually reminded by my growing stack of books to read and magazines to peruse that this is not that day. And yet I still try. Because when that day comes, I want to be ready. I want to have spent enough time on the process that I am ready for the next step.

Sometimes that process is painful. I actually wrote a blog last week and never published it. Why? Because I decided that my writing wasn’t good enough to be “published.” Well, of course, my writing isn’t good enough to be published! That’s why I started this blog. To practice writing. And yet I can’t get out of my own way enough to follow through.

Art is like that, and we are our own worst critics. I’ve yet to meet a musician (and I know many) who after a performance would say, “Yep, that was perfect! Went exactly as I’d hoped.” No, there are numerous aspects to critique and improve on for next performance. And so it is with writing. Even a published author when rereading his work is not always completely satisfied with the end result.

I recently read Ender’s Game. I enjoyed the introduction almost as much as the story. Orson Scott Card takes us on a journey of his imagination and shows how he created the world in which Ender Wiggin lives. But he admits early in the introduction that this new release of the novel needed, “something besides the minor changes as I fix the errors and internal contradictions and stylistic excesses that have bothered me ever since the novel first appeared.” An author continues to revise even after publication.

As I am in this day of my life I will enjoy the process both of loving my family and of writing when I have the chance. I will get out of my own way, hit publish, and be done with it knowing that right now the process is more important than the end result.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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