Slice of Life Story Challenge March 15 -Collecting The Raw Stuff


 Collecting The Raw Stuff

I have been reflecting on my advice to teachers while visiting Sale last Friday regarding the necessity to create time for writing. A question was asked about finding time in a busy life to become a teacher who writes. How do you do this? Inquired one teacher. I did my best to answer the question. Essentially this is what I said…

Every time I pick up a pen to write, the rest of my world defaults to standby. Every thing else comes to a halt. Only the writing matters.

Mel Levine in his book, The Myth of Laziness describes writing as ‘exquisite synchronization.’  At this point my mind is pried open and thoughts begin to flow. I am connected only to the page. The challenge of the blank page takes over and must be attended to, immediately. The first words to spill onto the pages of a notebook are often raw and untamed. It doesn’t all glitter.  As writers, we just want to trap those thoughts and ideas before they evade us. To do this we must carve out some time to write. Set time aside to allow our writing to develop. We must learn to quarantine time in our hectic lives. We must give life to the writing ideas that come calling. Maybe beginning with things the writer never wants to forget.

For writing to move beyond good intentions, requires a degree of self indulgence. Conscious self-indulgence, if you like. Remove the roadblocks holding up your writing. No one knows better than you what these obstacles are.  Get them out of the way! Out damn spot!

For this to happen, writing must be treated as something important, - a task too important; too urgent to be ignored. Prioritize, even if it takes you away from other tasks. Make time to breathe life into your words. Commit to the act of writing. Gather the raw stuff. Gather it regularly. Habits require time to develop. It is the regular repetition of the action that enables the habit to form. We need a cue. A notebook kept in a prominent place perhaps. We need the behaviour (find a convenient place and time- and write!) and the reward that arises from accomplishing the task of actually writing. The visible representation of your words on the page provides a powerful incentive.  This raw material is full of potential. First we harvest it, then we examine it to assess its value. So, my notebook remains with me at all times, a travelling companion. It is ready to receive even the smallest entry I can jot down. These things I know to be true.


  1. I appreciate your post. It's so encouraging. "Make time to breathe life into your words." Love it.

    1. Thank you for responding to my post. Encouragement is vital if we want teachers to make their reading and writing visible to students.

  2. I like the idea of "quarantining writing." It's an excellent image of the solitude one needs to write w/ purpose. I'm trying to make my writing purposeful during the SOL challenge. I'm definitely looking up the Levine book. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Sometimes hard to do Glenda, but we all need to push back against the impediments to writing. The Mal Levine Book is most instructive.


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