What’s Next?

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March has been FULL. But what is next on your creative list? There are many challenges in April you can take part in especially in the areas of poetry.

One thing I am participating in is Nicole Rivera’s Happy Camper Club. It even has a snappy happy name! You may know her name from her podcast, “Stop Writing Alone.”

The Happy Camper program is a community and support that will be focusing on a different writing aspect every day.

Here are Nicole’s Words about it:

On Mondays I PlotEach Monday I will host a live web call with attendees where we will discuss plots and plans. Mondays will be for goal setting, story structure, and other discussions related to the writing project(s) we are tackling during the month.
On Tuesdays I WriteTuesday will be all about getting words on the page.  I will host write-ins, writing sprints, and provide writing boosts (mini prompts to help writers get unstuck during the word mongering of the day).
On Wednesdays I DrinkWednesdays will be for support and chat. I will host a coffee hour live webinar for the attendees to check in with me and each other concerning how their week is going so far. We will decompress, celebrate our wins, and share our struggles.
On Thursdays I EditWhether the Happy Campers are drafting or working on rewriting during the month of April, all writers need to edit at some point. On Thursdays this April, I will be sharing tips with the group that they can either use immediately, or collect to use at the end of the month. Thursday will likely be the quietest day for me as host, but the resources will be plentiful.
On Fridays I DaydreamWhat a wonderful way to enter into each weekend — stretching out into our dreamer state. How does this translate into an offering from me? For one, Fridays are the day I always share my weekly writing prompts which I hope help writers to dream big and wonderful new creations, but I don’t want to end there. Writer daydreams also consist of thoughts of their writing career, so Fridays will include inspirations and pro tips on creating their dream writing career in addition to being a day of prompts.I had a plan. I have a plan. I laughed aloud as I realized this dream of a community project was inspired by pencils. The next step was to reveal it to the community and hope that others would be as excited as I was.The group of happy campers is growing, but as April grows nearer and the coronavirus has even more writers and creatives struggling to find their community connections, I thought I would extend the invitation a bit further, to you. If you are reading this, and you are intrigued by this month long project with fellow writers seeking to rise to some writing goal or challenge in the month of April — regardless of genre, regardless of whether you are looking to draft, rewrite, or revise — then this invitation is especially for you.The early bird pricing ended, but with all of the financial curve balls people are being thrown with this social distancing, I decided to cut the regular $49.99 price down to $30, basically one dollar per day for the month of April. You’ll have lifetime access to the group and the resources shared within. Any and all video calls that happen in the group will be recorded if you can not make the live event. It is my dream that you can make connections with the other happy campers to become your own writing tribe as you grow and write together. My mission is to get people to stop writing alone, this tight knit, highly accountable community is one of the best ways I can think of fostering that ideal in real time. If you think you’d like to join me for the experiment, here’s the link to join:

You can sign up here.

I will be there! Let’s have some fun and get some writing done with new friends. I will be writing fiction, but you can work on whatever tickles your fancy. I will probably do some planning for my May Storyaday as well.

Treasured Memories

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Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the Two Writing Teacher challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

In my life I have been blessed with lots of treasured memories within the different compartments of my life.

The first time my son laughed a real laugh.

The day I met my stepchildren and feel in love with them instantly.

Getting keys to my house.

The gift of Dairy Queen blizzards given to me as a wooing technique.

My school winning a national award and a reading program award.

The phone call that offered me my new job.

My first acceptance of a short story to be published.

Receiving notice I had secured a spot in the Boston Marathon in 2012.

Just making this list makes me feel better today!

I Remember…

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This month I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge. I will be posting slices from my very own life every day in March. This challenge is a part of the Two Writing Teachers blog. Click here to learn more information about the challenge.

Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

Why are the terrible memories the easiest to remember? There are many of these for me as I am sure there are for you as well. One of the most terrible is when I got the call that my Oma had died. The person on the phone told me she was gone. I misunderstood and asked where she went. She had been known to be ornery and get angry at my grandfather. Her getting in the car and leaving wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

I did not believe she was dead. I drove the 3 hours in desperation to see her at the funeral home. She wasn’t dead until I really saw her lying there.

It was April 1, 2000 when she passed away. April Fools day which she would have found amusing. I still think of her often. She sent me the scent of roses before I opened my eyes that first year anniversary.

She did not meet my son. She did not meet my husband. She did not see me move jobs or states.

But, she did see me jump off the diving board at the Y for the first time. She did see me graduate from college. She did see me get my first teaching job. She saw me do a lot of firsts throughout my life.

Is there a silver lining in your terrible memory? Is there a positive frame to learn from?

Image

Reading and Publishing

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Welcome to Friday!

Today is an exciting one! Big things are happening and my story is published at Storgy! You can read it by clicking the link below.

Artist Folly by Tammy Breitweiser

Throughout the TwowritingTeachers.org challenge (and through the year on Tuesdays) I watch for certain posts to come to my inbox/feed. Here are some of the teachers I read every day:

https://litcoachlady.com/

All three write beautifully and have their own style. Another thing in common is they all are inspiring.

Who are your GO TO follows/reads?

Have You Seen This?

A list of inspiration things you may not have stumbled upon until now!

  1. Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party

This is an installation in the Brooklyn Museum which is a triangle table honoring 39 women with a place setting.

Judy Chicago (American, born 1939). The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in. (1463 × 1463 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. (Photo: Donald Woodman

The triangle table is unusual. There is the thought of who would I honor in such a piece. I imagine this as short story with the description of the woman and the objects that are associated with them. This art piece has stuck with me for a while. I need to write the story!

2. Questions as Poetry Prompts

This is a picture of my copyright 1985!!! version of The Book Of Questions. I love this little treasure. I have used it to journal, have conversations, get to know someone, etc. Do you have a book you have had forever?

I heard an idea this week to use questions as poetry starters! I had not done this before and got out this book for the purpose. The poet (see #3) I was inspired by used Facebook questions that popped up on her feed for her poems.

3. Amy Watkins – Poet

Amy Watkins

While listening to The Drunken Odyssey podcast King interviewed the poet Amy Watkins. She wrote a book of poetry based on questions given to her through her feed on Facebook. She was actually angered by some of the questions. Check out her book LUCKY. Mine is on its way.

Three Wands – A Poem

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Please read this poem here to support my writing.

The rolling wind brings
The power of three.
A star looks out for me
In the distance
Atop of the mountains that are
Beckoning me to come.

There is no fear
Only delight
From the True North.
The crow stands tall
Confident
High above
Considering all that is around him.

True North is
Adventure
New lands to explore,
To move beyond.

Go after the dreams
You will not fail.
Fly to them
In this significant
Vast
Expansive life.

You will succeed.

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Other poems:Sleep MoonA Poemmedium.com

Souls of PeaceA poemmedium.com

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!

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.

Weekend Coffee Share

It has been a fast week! I almost forgot it was Sunday time rolling back around. I think today I will have caramel syrup in my cup. I feel like having some sweet. What would you like to drink today?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this week was full of meetings at work. There were after school meetings and lots of conversations with teachers about planning and ILearn our state mandated test. I did a lot of running around between the 3 buildings I go between as well.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am excited Storyaday is starting next weekend. I do this challenge twice a year. In May and September I write a story a day. My online writing group came out of this challenge and I speak with at least one of the Superstars daily.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I took a writing class for 2 days. It pushed me out of my comfort zone a little. I had a hard time with the prompts which surprised me. They should have been within my wheelhouse. The prompts came later in the day and I was forced to write later in the evening after thinking about the prompt which is not my ideal time. I do have two new prompts to work with moving forward though. I will for sure use them again. It was fun to play. I did get two drafts done plus a third partial because of the class.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the idea of making space has been on my mind. There is space for community and interaction. I am the type of person who is quite solitary but I can build up ideas to a point where I want to share. Most of the time this is through writing, but sometimes I need people. I need to carve out space for things that energize me which I have not done well with since school started back.

Making space for writing, reading, and exercise is important as well. Honestly, sometimes just taking a moment of stillness too. I have so many priorities!

I am part of several communities but the interaction is not always at the level I crave at the moment. The 2 day class didn’t allow for the type of interaction among writers as a longer one allows so connections were not really formed sadly. I still haven’t quite figured out how to do that either which is part of the problem. Medium is a community as well and I interact with other writers through their pieces. I have my AW group also.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I got into a flash fiction class for the end of September which I am excited about.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I picked up some great books at the library this week including The Little Swedish Kitchen! If anything it will inspire a story. I also picked up There, There have you read it? I keep hearing wondering comments about it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you …this is your prompt! Finish the sentence for me. What have you been thinking about?

You can read the entire post here.