Winner of the Books!

I was super excited to get an email from Kellie from her blog. I WON A GIVEAWAY! Even better it was BOOKS!

I Am Not A Niche

An honest reflection about niche and writing.

I am not a niche, so why does my writing require one?

As a writer, I am many things.

I am a teacher.

I am a teacher who writers.

I am a teacher of writing.

I am a mother of four and a writer.

I am an ultra runner and a writer.

I am a wife and a writer.

I am a reader and a writer.

I have interests galore and roles which influence my writing.

Worrying about an email list and promotion has been the topic of conversation between a writer friend and I. It has spanned days. We love our craft and we also love money. We have both been told we need a niche to be successful. It has been told we need a niche to increase followers and subscribers and it makes it easier. I am not sure this idea is true.

I am a poet and essayist.

I am a blogger and a short story writer.

I am a novel writer.

Why should I only have to focus on one of these things to be successful?

The answer is — I don’t.

I am also a yogi and a yoga teacher. I bend and am flexible with my physical form so the mental form is going to follow. Reflection is one of the superpowers I possess.

As a writer, one of the types of essays I receive the most feedback for are my Weekend Coffee Share posts. It is a reflection of my week written in a conversational tone and the sentence stem, “If we were having coffee”.Weekend Coffee ShareA cup of coffee and a conversationmedium.com

I also get a lot of feedback from my poems. These are two genres of posts that are the easiest to write for me. The Weekend Coffee Share posts give a glimpse into the life I lead. In some ways it seems odd for people to be fascinated by this post, but I read those types of posts myself from others and adore them. The poems are insights into my emotions as cryptic as that may be. They are real and raw. The exact reasons I read myself. There is an honesty like no where else.

You can read this article here on Medium.

Ideas for A More Inclusive Classroom Culture

To build culture in a classroom the teacher needs to be reflective about their own culture and how it connects to the cultures of their students. Equity and recognizing differences and similarities in humans is fundamental to us learning. A culture of learning, high quality work, and character is essential to students becoming leaders of their own learning.

We carry our stories with us. They are weaved into the essence of who we are. The stories are there whether they are told or not. I am an advocate for telling them and appreciating them.

Beginning Reflections:

  • The more we know about our students allows us a better perspective of our students to teach and reach them.
  • Learning occurs from interactions with others no matter which culture they identify with or the role they occupy within the school.

You can read the rest of this post here.

3 Ways to Start A Meeting

Transitioning from work to a meeting can sometimes be difficult. As a presenter to various groups for 25 years I have found a transition activity from a state of unfocus to refocus is necessary.

Here are three tried and true activities:

Have Your Participants Write Six Word Memoirs

A small story of 6 words. Constraints are great for creativity and may lead to an insight about the people sitting at the table.

Examples:

  • It must be the full moon
  • Comparison is a thief of joy
  • Create something that will outlive you
  • I’d pick you over french fries
  • Know your worth. Then add tax.
  • Catch 22, but give 21 back.
  • New mom of 4 almost overnight.
  • High School sweetheart was disappointing knight.
  • I might be Monday’s only friend.

Have Your Participants Make a List

List 5 things you are really good at:

1. listening

2. giving constructive criticism

3. believing in the impossible

4. singing

5.loving

List 5 things you love, but haven’t done in a while:

  1. Try a new recipe.
  2. Took a walk.
  3. Bought a new dress
  4. Painted
  5. Sang

List 5 Jobs You Would Love to Have Even if You Do NOT have the Skills:

  1. Photographer
  2. Caterer
  3. Queen
  4. Professional student
  5. Children’s book author

Ask a Question and Share the Answers

Any question that leads to an open ended answer will suffice. One that is interesting is: People often consider what it would be like to be the last person alive on earth and of course it would be horrible in lots of ways. But let us be a little different — tell me what fun you could have if the earth was all yours!?

or

What would a perfect school look like to you?

All three can be used with students and with adults alike!

You can read and clap for this article here on Medium.

Nanowrimo Report -10 days In

The first 10 days.

Salutations fellow writers! Happy Sunday to you.

The number 10 is important to me. When I am feeling like I do not know what to write I freewrite for 10 minutes. If there is something I do not want to do but know I have to I make a deal with myself to go for 10 minutes and then I can stop. I feel I can do just about anything for 10 minutes. Your time frame might be longer…or shorter.

This is the third year I have done NANOWRIMO — National Novel Writing Month. I have won the two previous years. There are the in between sessions called CAMP Nanowrimo but I have a harder time sticking to those months. I have no figured out why. I probably need to free write for 10 minutes about it.

I am a NANO rebel. The first year I had just discovered short stories were my niche in the fiction world and wanted to continue momentum from my self imposed story a day challenge from October.

Last year I wrote a novel with short stories within it. There is magic there but I have to revise that work. I did some work when I took a writing retreat last year. I have sent a couple chapters to writer groups but have not gotten farther with it.

This year I am writing short stories all about the same character — Brooklyn.

On day 10 I am up to 16,391 words and I have not written today. My goal this month was to write 2000 words a day Stephen King style. As you can tell from counting by 2’s, I am behind. That is ok.

While listening to a podcast talking about making writing goals for 2020 I came to the conclusion I make my own writing rules. I know this seems silly to state but it is true. I just don’t write on my WIP for Nano. I do morning pages every morning and I also write poetry and on Medium. Next year my goal will still be 2000 a day but 1000 of those words are for other projects than my WIP. My goal is still to reach the 50,000 words by the end of this month and I will get there.

Most of my words for Nano this year are written in my bed. I wake up, make my coffee, handwrite my morning pages, and then open the computer to write about Brooklyn. There was one day I woke up at 2am and was able to get 4 hours of writing in before I went to work. Other days I am up at 4am. I am often part of the #5amwritersclub on Twitter.

Brooklyn has been on my mind for a long while and she has a lot to say. I wrote her first story Hourglasses and Dreams awhile ago but it is a complicated world she lives in. Her stories are in a folder in Google. I know enough about myself as a writer to make each story separate otherwise it will never get revised. If the file is too big I intimidate myself.

Every day I receive Sarah Selecky’s writing prompts at 5am and whatever it is becomes a story about Brooklyn for the month of November. I also am participating in Nancy Stohlman’s NANO flash this month and incorporate her prompt into the same story for a open a new file. All the stories are about Brooklyn. It is often not difficult to use both prompts in that day’s writing because they are just jumping off points for me anyway. The prompts just get the sentence started and then flow takes over.

I have used my tarot cards to help me when I am uncertain which direction to write as well. Sometimes I do a spread just for the story of several cards and sometimes I just pull one card with the question, “What should happen next?” It works for me every time. I am working on an article about how I use tarot to write — stay tuned for that piece.

I enjoy the community of Nano. Many more writers come out on websites and Twitter this month. I check in with my writing communities on Slack every day. It helps to stay motivated. I am not thrilled with the new Nano website. It seems difficult to talk to my buddies there. I am tbreit there if you would like to add me.

I am not upset that the word count is a little lower than I wanted it to be when I started on November 1st. I will keep writing every day because that is what writers do.

You can sign up for my newsletter here. I would love for us to connect. I am on Twitter at @tlbreit

Happy writing!

You can read this article on Medium here.

#FMF Settle

The word settle is a bit of a trigger for me. I do not like the idea. It means defeat in my bubble. Settling means changing your expectations and standards.

The question that comes to mind is one of change. If you change you mind of what you want is it settling? I am not sure. I suppose it depends on the circumstance.

There are situations out of my control. I am not sure I consider it settling if I have no choice.

I have settled with my pay at work for too long and plan to change it. I have exhausted all the ways I know how. I researched and took action but it got me no where. I will have to step out of what I am comfortable with again for something new.

I fall into the game of comparison. I try not to, but it creeps in. I think I feel I don’t settle even when I do because I change the mindset and reframe to fit what I can live with. I am not sure if I consider this a lie I tell myself or something else. Compromise maybe, but I believe that is the same as settling for something I don’t really want.

I will keep thinking about it.

You can read this on Medium and support me at this link: https://medium.com/@tammybreitweiser/fmf-settle-9e9392c9820d

#IWSG November

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

November 6 question — What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

I am working on a story that involved several artist’s being murdered. I needed about 6 different ways to kill someone — one for each artist. My daughter looked on my Pinterest page the day after and all these pins for poisoning people came up. She alarmingly went to my husband about it! I reassured her it was for a story and showed her the file.

Crisis averted but funny to me!

You can read this post on Medium here.

#SOL Word, Phrase, Sentence

I often use the SENTENCE-PHRASE-WORD (Making Thinking Visible) technique.

It is a discussion group tool to review text and then select:

• Sentence that was meaningful to you, that you felt captures the core idea of the text.

• Phrase that moved, engaged, or provoked you.

• Word that captured your attention or struck you as powerful.

As a group, discuss and record your choices. Begin by sharing your words, then phrases, then sentences.

Explain why you made the selections you did.

What do you notice?

Today is an e-learning day for students and a professional development day for teachers. I am teaching 2 sessions today on EL Education. My participants will use this protocol with an article in the morning.

Here are a couple examples of what people marked:

“Education is not preparation for life:education is life itself.” X2

“They crave collaboration with their peers and engagement in their learning through play, story and games.”

Phrase — “All block” — I just loved what it encompasses.

Word — “Structured” and “equity”

As you read today, think of what word, phrase, and sentence pop out for you.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

Weekend Coffee Share

A cup of coffee and a conversation

Welcome to a new month! It is November. I am going to have my regular black coffee. It is chilly outside so I will make a large pot for us!

This month is full!

It is NANOWRIMO — National Novel Writing MonthNaNo Rebels UniteYou Can Do the Challenge to Your Own Rulesmedium.com

It is FLASH NANO — A Nancy Stohlman month of prompts

It is the month for Thanksgiving which is my favorite holiday full of my favorite foods.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it snowed on Halloween Wednesday. I kept thinking of the song I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas but subbed Halloween. It was a light dusting and only stuck on the grass til the morning but it was still the first snow of the season!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I started a new 30 day challenge about what depletes me, what energizes me and what I learn about myself from logging these things. I have been doing this awhile now inspired by Emily P Freeman and her Next Right Thing book and podcast. It is also discussed in The Third Door which is how the challenge was inspired in my Artist’s Way community. I have learned that I love a challenge and it keeps me focused on forward movement with a project. One way I energize myself is to walk. I was finally able to take one Saturday. It stopped raining. The trail was full of colorful leaves and it was great. I had to be bundled up but welcomed being among the trees.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my daughter turned 13 this weekend. We had a family party here with a few games. I made a Jeopardy game all about her, we had a Mad Libs themed for her birthday, and a contest to see who knew her best. We also had a balloon dart game with dares inside. Funfetti cake was eaten and so were the chicken pita sandwiches for dinner. It was great fun all around.

If we were having coffee I would tell you two friends are traveling to Salem for a writing conference. My original plan was to be there also but it didn’t work out that way. I will be in contact with them during the week and follow what I can on social media.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am looking forward to the coming week. I am presenting to full rooms on Tuesday and meeting up with a writing friend. What are your plans?

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Circles

Why circles? They are egalitarian and invite participation. They allow everyone to see and hear everyone else, unfettered by furniture or belongings. They allow greater access to our hearts and bodies, not just our heads. Circles are an ancient way to gather and share in a way that supports connection.

Cyndi Gueswel

I am drawn to circles.

I tend to doodle circles and spirals absentmindedly especially when in a meeting.

The inner circle label came from the idea of being in a wedding party. As an introvert it is often difficult to be in a social situation where I do not know the procedure. I like to know where I am going and who I am sitting with and what the expectations are for my behavior. When you’re in the inner circle you don’t have to feel like you’re on the outside. You feel like you belong.

I’m fascinated by silent circles, talking circles, and restorative circles. The quote above illustrates this point beautifully for me.

Another quote that resonates is :

You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with,” a quote attributed most often to motivational speaker Jim Rohn.

I’ve learned for this to be true in an influential way.

Think about sitting at a round table vs a rectangular table. I much prefer a round table especially for conversation. I must admit it reminds me of baby and wedding showers in a reception halls. The round tables are not coincidence — circles breed connection and conversation. I’m always searching for deep conversation even though at times I find it energy depleting rather than energy giving. I suppose this energy shift depends on the people and the conversation. Luckily, I’ve had deep conversations with one person and up to a small group of eight.

Some circles are implied but not physical like critique circles and writing circles. The element of connection is still there.

One of the newest components of an ELA program we are implementing at work is CREW. The idea of crew is that everyone has a job and no one is a passenger. We are all getting to the same destination but the experience is different if you are crew or just a passenger. It is a meeting with your class that is to foster relationships. All the students and the teacher stand in a circle and start the day with a greeting that involves their name. Every child deserves to have their name spoken in a positive tone every day. Then there is a team building activity or a shared reading so there can be talk. It helps everyone get to know each other.

What are the circles that are most energy giving to you? Do you use circles in your classroom?