Slice of Life Story- An Emotional Response to Writing

Emotional response is critically important in writing. 
 It’s part of the total package. Our emotional responses manifest themselves in many ways. Sometimes it's the writer. Sometimes it's the writing. Sometimes it's the ways it is taught. Today, I find myself thinking about my responses to a number of common classroom writing scenarios.

My heart sings when kids enter classrooms announcing 'I know what I'm going to write about today.' It’s clear evidence of rehearsal in the writers mind.
I find myself disappointed when a teacher doesn't instinctively allow a young writer to hold the pen during an editing conference. Ownership of this task is critical to the developing writer. 
I rejoice when a teacher is brave enough to share their personal writing with their students. 
I am warmed when a young writer demonstrates a willingness to persist with a writing problem. The inner drive to solve the problem becomes an irresistible force. 
I sense a feeling of sadness when a student writer informs me they cannot find any ‘good bits’ in their writing.
I feel a sense of loss when a teacher describes a young writer as lazy or reluctant. The essential question of why the writer is not engaged in writing has not been considered.
I feel a sense of joy and delight when a student finds the central purpose for something they are writing. They connect strongly to a chosen topic. Comfort and confidence rise to the surface for the writer when such ownership of the task kicks in.
I experience a sense of frustration and disappointment when teachers indicate they don’t trust student writers to think of topics and ideas for themselves. It is their justification for using ‘sentence starters.’
I become a little twitchy when teachers take responsibility ‘for fixing up the writing’ and consequently entrench student dependency.
My heart sinks when I see writing pieces displayed and they all begin with the same 'sentence starter.' It reminds me of a string of sausages in a butcher's shop!
I experience a shot of exultation when a student discovers that writing holds something they can revel in.
I feel a sense of trust and connected-ness when a fellow writer of any age says, 'Would you like to read my writing?'
I begin to feel anxious when a teacher doesn’t allow sufficient time for young writers to rehearse and plan their writing. When teacher invest time in a range of pre-writing activities it enhances the likelihood of a superior outcome when writing takes place. 
I feel fulfilled when I hear young writers sharing their growing knowledge of the writing craft with each other.
I feel reinvigorated when a young writer finds new ideas from reading an older piece of writing.
I feel overjoyed when a young writer having displayed writing stamina, is able to articulate their personal vision for how they want their published work to look. 
I'll stop there. I'm feeling a bit emotional... Not that there's anything wrong with that.


  1. Love this post, Alan. I am printing it and posting it on my bulletin board. I may even have a few teachers I'll share it with to try to minimize the strings of sausages that I sometimes find when I enter classrooms. I like your work when you're feeling emotional!

  2. Alan,
    Your articulation of high and low moments of writing experiences with other writers and teachers had me feeling the moments with you. The point about same-looking sausages at the butcher shop in comparison to assembly line out-put of writing made me chuckle! You made so many great points that could be opening statements to chapters in a book on writing workshop advice! ;)

  3. I love the way you frame this great advice to writing teachers through your own emotional reaction to scenarios. You have captured so many bottom lines about writing and teaching writing.

  4. Emotions make writing real. Each scenario you mention echoes experiences I have had. This piece will connect with many readers.

  5. Yes, I kept thinking as I read your thoughtful piece. I have made myself anxious, frustrated and disappointed when I failed to trust my student writers. This reminds me as I have learned better practices I have been able to keep true to them.

  6. It's incredible watching growth and enthusiasm from young writers. Your post sure captures that!

    I, too, am always writing a story in my head. I only wish I could revise in my head too. That takes a computer or paper!

  7. This is a wonderfully gripping reflection on the various writing experiences that our students encounter. My heart was rejoicing and crying with the variation of emotions in your descriptions. All writing teachers need to read this post!

    P.S. The image at the end is delightful! It brought me out of the depth of emotion I had experienced and left me in a lighter place. Thank you!


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