How I Became a Writer

How my story can connect you to yours

Photo by John-Mark Smith on

Read this post here.


The Sunshine Blogger Award

I have been nominated by the wonderful Extra Life ! Check out the blog.

Nomination Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Here are the questions Extra Life asked me:

  1. Have you ever purchased something that turned out to be phony? Not that I can recall…
  2. What time do you usually get up? I usually get up around 3 am. I have a different sleep pattern where I sleep for about 4-5 hours and then am up for 2 or more and then go back to sleep for 1 or 2 before I have to get up to go to work. I sometimes do not go back to sleep.
  3. What time do you usually go to bed? On a normal night usually pretty early around 8pm.
  4. What line from any medium managed to hit you like a ton of bricks? On a writer call last week a friend told me “there is enough” It has stuck with me.
  5. Have you ever owned a record player? I have! I still do actually. We gave one as a gift last year as well.
  6. What color do you prefer your consoles (or computer) to be in? Gray
  7. Do you prefer your books to be in a physical format or in an electronic format? Professional books I always prefer physical. Ebooks are easier to transport. I like all books.
  8. What is your least favorite thing about a work you like? I love the short story “Bullet to the Brain” by Tobias Wolff and wish I would have found his writing sooner.
  9. What is your favorite thing about a work you dislike? I recently read Celeste Ng’s short story “Girls, At Play” and I do not like the subject matter but I liked the writing style.
  10. Have you ever attempted to use an alternative keyboard layout? No.
  11. What is the longest amount of time you’ve ever been in a plane? 11 hours on the way to Hawaii.

Here are my questions:

  1. What is inspiring you right now?
  2. What is a small joy you do not give yourself often enough?
  3. What do you need more of in your life?
  4. What is something you buy that you always consider quality first?
  5. When did you last cry?
  6. What are you grateful for?
  7. What is your favorite season?
  8. What is your favorite smell?
  9. Woods or water?
  10. What is your favorite word?
  11. Would you rather have a sandwich or a drink named after you?

My nominations:

How to Cultivate Writers

Yesterday I followed up on a coaching conversation from last week. A teacher had expressed concern about a student who has ability but does not produce much work product in class.

My intent was to watch her interact within the culture of the classroom to see if I could spot some strengths and possible insights to her reluctance before talking to her. Unfortunately, the teacher loudly announced my presence as I walked in.

I stood to the side for a bit waiting for the teacher to finish directions of reading material curated for them in connection to this week’s learning targets. Then he asked them to take out their writing and move to the floor.

I took this opportunity to have a quieter conversation with the little one. She brought her 2 books and her notebook. We talked about her day as we walked to my office. I assured her she wasn’t in trouble and that I just wanted to talk reading and writing with her.

This little one has a soft spoken voice and spoke like she is often interrupted – Heavy breaths lay in between her thoughts.

Her notebook didn’t have much writing. A sentence or two on some pages. Some only the date at the top with the label “Quickwrite”.

We talked about ways to make quickwrites easier for her. Then I wrote with her.

As we readied ourselves to write together she expressed a piece she had worked on earlier that she wanted to add to. PERFECT. I had her reread what she had written. I reread mine as well since I said I was adding to something I had started already.

I set a pretty hourglass timer on my phone in the middle of the table and we wrote.

Sometimes we need each other to do the thing – no matter what is.

Other ways to cultivate writing:

+Have them talk before they write.

+Use materials and resources that real writers would use – not just teaching resources.

+Writing as an experience –treat them like real writers and not just children. Acknowledge they have something to say.

+Teaching them to honor their feelings and imagination when they are in the younger grades can help them to not lose the spark that is their voice when they get older.

+Writing is not about having a formula and plugging words into it.  Don’t treat it or teach it this way.

+Write with them.

+Give them freedom and trust. They will produce amazing pieces that are heart felt and honorable. A group of fourth graders I worked with in 2006 had such great writers they sometimes moved me to tears with their insight and it was from ALL the students not just the ones you “expect” to be good writers.

+Performance is a true part of the writing process. Let your students shine that have this ability.

+Remember writing is hard and fun! Support them in both areas.

Happy Writing today!

2 Surprising Crucial Items to my Mental Wellness

I have learned I have to protect myself from the people around me. Well, not the people necessarily, but their emotions. I have found since writing more, listening to my intuition, and opening up my own emotions I am more sensitive to others. I have always been able to read people well and tell them things about themselves they do not think I should know.

I found being around new people the past month I have been drained more than in the past. After consulting a trusted psychic healer she asked me if I protect myself before coming to work. It has never occurred to me.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

#FMF Start

Every Friday Kate at posts a word. Set the timer for 5 minutes and see what come out of the pen…Ready, set, GO!

What do I need to start?

I need to start a story for today.

I could start with a line.

I could start with a title.

I could start with a list.

I could start with a character.

I could start with a situation.

The line I could start with is: A top layer of a wedding cake was in their freezer and they had no idea where it came from but ate it anyway.

The title I could start with is: Just Because You Keep Saying it Doesn’t Make it True

The list I could start with is items in a weird grocery cart.

The character I could start with is Brooklyn.

The situation I could start with is the couple trying to get to Chicago and they have missed their train.

Now that I have that worked out I will set the timer for 10 minutes and write!

Happy Friday!

Click here to read and support me on Medium.

My First 6 Weeks with the Artist’s Way…again

Here in my truth about creative recovery –

What is It?

The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron which came from a creative recovery class she was teaching. It is a 12 week program divided into weeks with tasks and two main tools with the purpose to find and fuel your creativity. It is not just for writers, it is for anyone. There are two main tools in addition to the weekly exercises.

Tool 1: Morning Pages

This is the heart of the program and is likely a word you have heard or read around writers and other creative people. Morning pages are simply three pages of longhand writing done in the morning that are a brain drain. You write whatever comes to mind. They are not supposed to be smart but they can be. Many times it is complaining or what you need to remember for the day.

Julia Cameron says: There is no wrong way to do the morning pages.

Yet, there is much conversation around what is the “right” way to do them. Our inner critic makes us perfectionists and many of us are hard wired to want to do things right.

Why do we do morning pages when they aren’t considered real writing? To get to the other side — of the censor, of our own obstacles — they help us get out of our own way.

For me, the morning pages lift the fog and I reach clarity. My relationship with them are different because this is the fourth long term relationship I have engaged in with the tool. It is more about what happens after the morning pages for me. All my other writing is more clear and focused when I use this tool. My MP’s tend to be list like and weird streams of thoughts. There are reflections and random memories as well.

Tool 2: Artist Dates

The artist date is a weekly date you take solo.

Read the entire article here.

The Writing Store

Creativity sparks often from unusual places. As writers we are required to pay attention as part of the job.

I am continually writing down ideas in notebooks, apps on my phone, my hand, or doing the “I will repeat this phrase until I find a pen”. I do not recommend the last one.

I started composing a “List of 10” over a year ago. Shaunta Grimes does this, Austin Kleon does this too. With daily lists you always have something to write about.

I write what strikes me as funny, unusual, appealing or something I cannot stop thinking about.

Authors will tell you to keep a notebook of ideas. Most of us have several notebooks.

Here is a list of places to shop for ideas for those little worlds of paper:

  1. Tarot cards — just use the images on the cards or use spreads
  2. Open 30 random books and write down the first phrase or sentence that pops out to you
  3. Keep a collection of words

Please click here to read the entire post.

Also click here to read my article ENGAGEMENT: Invite vs Direct

During this past week, I have had many life-giving teaching conversations.

We are piloting a new curriculum for literacy and it is the most excited I have ever been for a program. Immersion is the word that comes to mind when I think of all the experiences which are created.

Students are immersed in a reading writing workshop where the pace is quick but not hurried. Every time I visit a classroom I forget about the time. Late last week I was in a 7th grade room where the students were working with character related to the setting in a novel.

In the debrief with the teacher I made the observation that students do not have a problem discussing what they are supposed to during the turn and talk portions of the lessons. Traditionally, if the routines are not clearly established students will go rogue with their conversations and talk about lunch or the neighborhood instead of what they are supposed to. It is often a struggle for teachers. In this program, I have not seen that at all. There might be a side comment but it is always AFTER they have discussed their point in relation to the materials. I asked the teacher why she thought that might be.

My 12 Steps

Photo by John-Mark Smith on

My name is Tammy and I am a writer.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and compulsion to write. Our lives are unmanageable due to constant thinking about story and imaginary worlds.

We came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We free our unconscious with freewriting and letting go meditations from our spirit guides.

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the nurturing of writing.

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and list these obsessions and write about them…obsessively.

Click here to read and support my writing.

Weekend Coffee Share

Join me for coffee and conversation!

It is Sunday again and the temps are a little cooler here. There is supposed to be a heat wave this week here in the Midwest later this week. I hope it stays away.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this weekend is the anniversary of me moving into the house I am living in now. It is not my forever home and I feel it. The birds do great us every morning as do the bunnies and the baby squirrels. There is lots of green which I adore.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was a productive and busy week at work. Lots of conversation and planning which was positive.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am in week 5 of the Artist’s Way program. I am doing my morning pages every day which are three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind. It clears the way for the creative juice to flow. On Thursday night the ideas kept coming for articles and stories and I really wish I could have taken a writing day ALL DAY Friday to massage and nurture those words into pieces but alas the day job and other responsibilities called.

If we were having coffee I would tell you Storyaday is going strong. I have been writing to the prompts everyday and it has been going well. I enjoy the challenge and use it to try different techniques to foster my writing skills. I tried a new genre this week — cyberpunk. It was out of my comfort zone but a fun experiment. I wrote a 100ish word story and still do not like them! hahaha I have met some new writers through the group as well and that has been interesting. The Zoom call was Tuesday night. We did a lot of writing sprints — where we set the time and write all together — but there was some talking. I write in the morning on my own so I show up more for the conversation then the word count. It does get me some extra words. This week I worked on nonfiction during the call.

You can read the whole post here.