I have a writing practice. It is established and has been fairly unshakeable during the pandemic and the constant wheel of change.
Every day I write my own version of morning pages. It is mostly writing. Once in a while I doodle but words are my jam. I love the look of more arty notebooks and entries and my Instagram feed is full of them.
Writing is how I cope. I have been purposefully NOT writing about the isolation, the school closings, the sickness, etc. It has creeped into my writing in spite of my efforts.
Yesterday I wrote a lot of sentences that said absolutely nothing. I believe in the practice and know my truth will come through if I keep writing.
I am also a runner. I used to be a long distance runner of the obsessed variety. I have run more than 10 marathons including Boston. I have run multiple ultra marathons including a 50 mile race. I know how to train.
There are points in training where you feel like you are sloggin along. But if you keep running, you keep showing up, it gets easier. There is the day you run and you forget you are running. You feel you can run forever.
Writing is the same way. If you keep showing up to the page, it gets easier and words come out that surprise you.
Yesterday I stumbled upon Youtube videos from two writing teachers I adore. I saw Penny Kittle speak with Kelly Gallagher and Donalyn Miller several years ago in New Orleans. I listen carefully to these people. They teach students, they teach adults and they write.
These videos they are posting are about what they are reading and what they are writing in their notebooks. They are talking about how they are adapting to the school closings and their feelings about not seeing their students again. They talk about their insecurities about writing and how they lean on each other.
THEY ARE WRITING PARTNERS in all senses of the word and I get a glimpse into this process because they are brave enough to record it and share it with the world.
They talk about their notebooks and what they are writing. Gallagher talked about starting to write about one thing and had to get all the way down the page revealing what he was really thinking. It is what writers do.
I listen and take notes. I am on day 4. I am watching in order.
I find myself wishing there was someone I could call and ask, “What did you write in your notebook today?” I have a small group I talk about writing with but it is usually project based. It feels more scattered than what Gallagher and Kittle seem to have.
There are teacher writer friends who share pictures of their notebooks on their blogs and Twitter. I feel blessed to be part of the world at this time of technology that it is possible.
What did I write today?
I started a new notebook yesterday and it felt wrong. So I started a different notebook that was gifted to me. It is wood and feels better. I used two prompts. One is “Last December” and I wrote about applying for my job and how I knew it was a catalyst.
I wrote a flash fiction story about a wishbone based on truth.
I wrote notes about what I think my kindergarten students should write about during this time but realizing how little control I have over this process considering the circumstances.
I wrote about how I have to let go of my own boundaries with myself so the words flow and I do not stifle myself.
I wrote about my thoughts about the videos and how I was going to use it as my slice today.