Rehearsing The Words I Write

 I have been rehearsing this all day...

    In fact, I have been rehearsing this for a few days. The events of Christmas no doubt have prompted my thoughts. I recalled a discussion I once had with a group of teachers during a workshop I was presenting. We were discussing the need for writers to rehearse their words before assigning them to the page and this prompted Dan, a young teacher to make a rather insightful comment without notice...

     ‘I rehearse before I write on a greeting card.’

    Everyone stopped to consider Dan’s words. He had reminded us of the conscious rehearsal frequently undertaken when we are faced with filling out cards on special occasions.

    ‘I rehearse the words in my head to make sure they sound right.’ Dan further explained. Another teacher added, ‘ I actually practice what I want to write on the card, on another piece of paper, including, Dear Whoever.’

    Someone else chimed in announcing she consciously purchases blank cards in order to avoid the saccharine sweet cliched comments that often come pre-loaded. ‘I don’t want them to influence, or contaminate my message. The blank card forces me to think. I want my words to be original and particular to the person that card is for.’

   It made me think of my own approach to writing in cards. I realized that just like all the other writing I do, rehearsal is central to the messages I write in greeting cards too. I devote time to pondering the words I wish to use. I roll them around in my head seeking those thoughts and ideas that hopefully capture the spirit of the occasion as well as the personality of the recipient. It's a buzz really, all that internal word juggling. -Even Christmas gift tag cards are rehearsed in order to avoid any repetition. 

    When  my wife’s birthday is imminent, as it is right now, I devote a significant amount of time to rehearsing my words. Not because of any perceived difficulty with the words. I am motivated by a desire to create a message unique, separate, from all previous greetings. I want the words to be fresh and new. I seek to produce a message that means something to this special person, in this precise moment. Generic will not cut it when it comes to writing on cards -for me, anyway. I am seeking a match between the recipient and the words destined to appear on the card...

    When we rehearse our words, we are declaring the fact, we care. It is an investment worthy of the words we wish to give to the recipient; the reader. Think of it as a gift. We want that gift to be meaningful.

My rehearsal practices are part of every form of writing in which I involve myself. From my poetry to these blog entries. When posting entries to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, rehearsal of my words is front and centre. We owe it to young writers to alert them to this regular and considered practice in our personal writing process.

    It is said writers devote almost as much time to thinking about their writing as they do in composing their words. From my experience, this is true. As famed Australian children's author Paul Jennings noted in his recent memoir, Untwisted, the Story of my Life, 'There is much energy to be gained from cogitating and musing over things.'

Whether we are in the classroom or places beyond, rehearsal ensures the likelihood of a better writing outcome. The think before ink time is an integral part of effective writing outcomes for all writers, regardless of their level of experience.


  1. Alan, I was delighted to read your slice today. It is a reflective piece that needs pondering. Thinking back on classroom tips, I always used the Think-Ink-Share protocol for writers to reflect before writing and sharing. The word rehearsal adds a novel touch to all of this. We have different ways to rehearse our words. You gave me much food for thought. I am wondering what you shall offer as words of endearment for your wife's birthday. Enjoy the process.

    1. Thank you Carol. Rehearsal as you imply is synonymous with thinking and writing and the very act of thinking are inseparable. You are correct in thinking rehearsal can manifest itself in different ways- also different settings and times. I shall continue to ponder the words for my wife's birthday...

  2. So good. Often I will have a whole blog post in my head, including revisions, before I write anything down.

    1. Thank you Ruth. As writers we are notorious for editing in our heads before the words even reach the page. Like you I often carry a blog post round in my head. Ideas and words spinning like clothes in a tumble dryer...

  3. Your post has me reflecting on the ways we make (or fail to make) this rehearsal visible to kids. . . Such an important part of the writing process!

    1. Sharing our writing processes, making them visible, is as important as sharing our written words. Thank you Amy for reminding me of this important fact.

  4. Alan, this thoughtful post (as well as your thoughtful comment on my blog yesterday) shows that you did some cogitating and musing. Those are great words Paul Jennings chose to tell how doing so energizes one. And makes our writing better too!

    I love the idea you share about rehearsing for greeting cards. It is something I've never given thought to, but it is true for me as well. Sometimes it's so I don't ruin the card by writing too big or making mistakes, but as you say about the sentiment you are rehearsing for your wife's birthday, "I want the words to be fresh and new. I seek to produce a message that means something to this special person, in this precise moment." I do that, and I've been motivated to do it even more after reading your post because it truly is a gift to the recipient of our words. Thank you for giving us that gift today. Blessings!

    1. Denise, thank you for your thoughtful response. Your words are much appreciated.


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