Slice of Life Tuesday: When your writing brain needs a rest…

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life community at Two Writing Teachers!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life community at Two Writing Teachers!

My writing well has gone dry.

Day after day, my blog and writer’s notebook remain unattended.

I feel I have run out of things to say, ideas to explore.

Perhaps it’s the October blues – that time of year when the school year is fully underway, and there is so much to read, grade, plan for, and execute.  My kids have settled in, they are comfortable, and we are hard at work.  By the end of the day, I feel spent.  All my creative energy has been used up  in my classroom : read alouds, conferring, class discussions, and sixth grade issues.  By the time I close the door and haul my bags of notebooks to be responded to and quizzes to be graded, I am DONE!  What I look forward to the most is silence…I love my kiddos, but I am ready for a quiet cup of tea, perhaps a nap, and some time catching up with NPR.  In the silence of my very still house, I slowly find my way back to my book bags, and the work ahead.

In my current state, writing has ceased to be the pleasure it usually is.

So, today, I came clean with my kids.  We were logging on to our Writing Workshop Google Classroom, and preparing to attend to the final edits for our first to be published piece, when I arrived at this moment of truth.  Some of my students were less than enthusiastic at the prospect of revising and fine tuning their pieces once again, and I could feel this in their slumped shoulders, the slow way in which they went about the business of logging on, consulting their folders, and getting to work.  Catching my glance, one of them said, “Do YOU ever get sick of writing, Mrs. Smith?”

I could have said what he expected to hear, “Me? No never!”

I could have launched into a lecture about the importance of writing every day.

I could have…

Instead, I came clean.  “I haven’t been able to write in over a week,” I said, “I feel as though I have nothing to say.”

So, we put aside our revisions and talked about writing, and how it is sometimes hard to get going, hard to find something new and interesting to say.  We talked about how we are sometimes tired of our own writing voices, tired of the way we sound.  And we talked about ways to find our path back to wanting to write.

We didn’t get as much done in writing workshop as we’d hoped to…but I’m holding to these words of reassurance from one of my kids:

“Even your writing brain needs a rest, Mrs. Smith. Give yourself a break!”

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27 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: When your writing brain needs a rest…

  1. Out of the mouths of babes! You said exactly what they needed to hear. The rhythm of writing ebbs and flows. Sometimes finding a writing worthy moment is difficult once a week, then the challenge in March comes and I despair that I can meet that goal. When writing is hard, I try to look through books for a new craft to try. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. You will get your writing mojo back, I’m sure. 🙂

  2. Love that final line, Tara. What a sweet & thoughtful student! I have been doing the book & poetry posts, but also have been stuck. Yet I haven’t done as much as you lately, like the presentation. You’ve had so much going on this October, I can see why the need for a break! Fall chills are just right for a nap, right?

  3. Totally understand your feeling. My well has run dry on more than one occasion. I like that you were honest with your students. It is important that they realize that everyone hits a slump now and then. I think that this piece proves that you already have your groove back.

  4. Aw, cute student advice! They DO know more than we think. It’s true. Take a break. Have a nap, after a cup of tea. Relax and enjoy yourself. You’ll be ready to write again in no time! (And thank you for being honest with your students)

  5. Tara, that was a good piece of reflective writing so I am confused. Your writing brain seems to have been filled with stop, think, and share feelings that I appreciated it. Thanks for sharing the deep inside thoughts that nag.

  6. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read this slice. Lately, I have struggled to latch onto a topic that inspires me. Please tell your student that I found encouragement in his advice!

  7. I think that is exactly why teachers need to write! We need to experience those same emotions, experiences and thoughts as our students. I have been feeling the same myself. Maybe reading this will “fill up my well.”

  8. Oh, Tara, I so get the well going dry! And the only way to truly replenish it is to give yourself time for the cup of tea, the silence, the nap, NPR. AND trust that if you do that, the desire to write will return, eventually. But what I so admire here is not just your honesty with us, but with your class. What a gift that was to the writers in your room. And what a reminder that we should write from a rich place in ourselves, not just go through the motions or be on automatic.

  9. Oh Tara, I agree with Vicki,
    I have discovered that there are times when I can writing and times when I need to bake or paint or clean the bathroom sinks. If I just go with it, the writing comes back. The ideas are there, they just need time and some time to simmer as Peter Elbow might say. Loved the conversation you captured with your kids. No doubt there is a quite a bit of writing in your futures.

  10. This is one of the best things about living a writer’s life while teaching writing! It allows for such powerful conversations with kids about authentic writing. I was just telling a colleague today about how I absolutely feel I couldn’t teach writing if I wasn’t writing myself!

  11. I really love that you were honest with your students. Their empathic responses tell me that they understood you were sad about not being able to write – and what a powerful message that is, you aren’t being lazy, you want to write but aren’t able to find words just now. I suspect this spoke volumes about how meaningful writing is!

  12. This message was good for your kiddos. It was also good for me. I feel the same my friend. A tired brain needs a soothing cup of tea and a bit of NPR from time to time. Thank you for your ability to share your thinking with us and your students.

  13. Thanks for your honesty. I’ve been trying to be like Kate (DiCamillo) and write every day – for her she says 2 pages – good or bad. She said she doesn’t have writers block just good writing days and bad writing days. Easy to say….Also makes sense to stop and enjoyy some tea and NPR!!

  14. I love those moments of honesty and “realness” in the classroom when our students see us as just people. I’m feeling that way right now about writing AND reading! Just SO much to do – after reading and grading upteen essays, I just don’t feel like reading another thing! This too shall pass…

  15. Tara,
    You have such thought-filled students. Some days need to be spent on reflection and conversation. Your honesty makes you such a great teacher! (But quit being so hard on yourself, you can now tell us about sending student work to Kylene and how your kiddos feel about their work being included in the new Nonfiction Notice and Note!) ❤

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