Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Teachers Write Day 3 Question and Answers - The Path To Writing

Today is question and answer day.  There are a lot of great questions out there.  My particular question was about the difference between writing picture books and novels.  I find it difficult to cram my plot into such a small number of pages.  My first attempt at writing a picture book was met with, "somethings missing", "it doesn't feel complete".  The one I am working on now has a complete plot laid out.  I'm not sure why this one came together so easily.  I am actually writing it with my granddaughter.  Haylee is seven years old and loves to write stories.  I want to foster that in her .

As I've been reading every one's posts, you can find them here, I've noticed several consistencies.  We all have a fear of our writing not being good enough.  Self-doubt fills our minds.  As Laurel Snyder said,  writing is a process of discovery.  I think as a teacher I need to remember that and promote that with my students.

Other points that were made is that we need to just do it.  Just write. If I write a journal entry or in a diary, that is writing.  If I list my thoughts, or a quote or conversation I heard, or an idea that popped into my head that is writing.  I keep a notebook beside my bed.  For a long time as I read writing books I heard about "the voices in your head".  I didn't really get it until I was awakened from a sound sleep.  Before I went to bed I was trying to decide what role one of my characters would play as he was shipped to Afghanistan.  I kept hearing in my head, "I don't want to die", in my dream sleep stage I knew who the character was.  I had no intention of killing him off and couldn't figure out why my mind was saying that.  I went back to sleep and the same thing.  The third time I got up and got my notebook.  I started writing all the reasons this character would say something like this and the idea popped into my head. If my character is in Afghanistan there is a strong possibility that they could be killed.  It would be on their mind.  But, it was more than that.  I needed the tension in my book.  The idea popped into my head, what if he were injured while there, a real possibility that could kill him.  My agent kept saying that it was missing something and this was the direction I needed to go.

The only thing I can say is if you can't set aside time to write regularly then carry a notebook and write during those down times.  What is a down time?  I went to the dentist last year and took my notebook.  While I waited for the injections to numb me I turned down a magazine to read and used that time to write.  The dentist got a chuckle out of that.  He said it was the first time he'd had anyone do that.  It was one of the few moments I had in that day.  Be creative.  My mom lives with me and there are days when she is on the phone to friends all day.  I take that time to go to a park or someplace away from the house so that I can write.  Sometimes it is just out in my back yard. At school I will often stay in my room during my lunch time and set a timer.  I write and eat at the same time so that I can get work done.  Have kids?  Mine are grown, but I babysit my grand kids most days.  We go into the back yard and I take lots of things.  Cars and items that will keep my 2 year old grandson's attention for a while, crayons and they each have notebooks.  Jacob's is for scribbling and Haylees is for writing.  Jacob is learning that while I am writing that it is my "work".  He will leave me alone for a little while.  Telling him that I have to finish something and then I will take him for a walk or play something with him works well also.  I just have to set a timer and stick to it.  As a two year old this has worked well with Jacob.  It is something he can understand.

I think the most important thing you can do if you decide you want to follow the writing path is be committed.  You can start and then just stop and the tell everyone that one day you are going to write a book.  You must make a conscious decision that you are GOING to write.

I would be interested in your thoughts on writing, whatever they are.  Please feel free to comment.

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