Jo Knowles: Teachers WRITE! :-)
This is the name of a wonderful summer project started by Kate Messner, and also a (gentle) command!
I recently gave a workshop with my writing partner, Cindy Faughnan, called “Writing Camp For Grown-Ups” based on a camp Cindy and another teacher run (and I am a guest author at) every summer for kids in grades 7-12. Whenever we tell other writers about it, they often say, “I want to go to writing camp!” So, we thought we’d give them a taste. We weren’t sure if anyone would sign up but boy did they! So much so, we had a very long waiting list. So… clearly there is a need/desire to HAVE FUN with writing.
And that’s the key.
I mean, why else do you want to write? Certainly not to NOT have fun, right?
As Kate mentioned in her post today, I am a guest author in the Teachers Write project, and every Monday I’ll offer a writing prompt to help you kick-start your week of writing. If you want more warm-ups, you can click on the “monday morning warm-up tag” on this page, or visit my Web site for archived exercises here: Jo’s Prompts.
I noticed on the announcements that a lot of you were nervous about getting started, or even trying to write. I know just how you feel. Writing can be scary. It can make you feel vulnerable. But here is some advice that I hope can help:
When you are starting out, write for yourself. Write for the joy of putting words to paper/keyboard. Write for the thrill of finding the perfect phrase to convey an emotion, or a tense scene, or a quiet exchange of love. Let go of the negative self-talk we so often use about ourselves when it comes to wanting to try something new but being afraid we’ll fail. Here’s something I already know about you: No one can write like you. Your job is to find out what that means. (Hint: Embrace your own unique voice, and let it shine!)
Monday Morning Warm-Up:
One of my favorite exercises to help people get started is to have them describe the kitchen of their childhood. Choose one if you moved around a lot. Choose the one that has the strongest memories, but verbal and of the sense. Place your child self in that room. Now:
What do you see? Describe the room in as much detail as you can remember.
What do you smell? Was yours a kitchen of delicious odors? Or was it rarely used. What kinds of foods were cooked? Did you like them? Why or why not?
What do you hear? What kinds of conversations took place in the kitchen, if any? Were there moments of joy? Arguing? Worry? Love?
What do you taste? What are the strongest tastes your remember? A morning bowl of cereal? The batter of a spoon? Who made the food?
As you write, you will likely notice a plethora of memories flooding your brain and your heart. Seize these and write them down. Describe them in as much detail as you can. Soon, you will discover a story taking shape. Grab it!