Hello September!

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September Goals:

I am going to try to keep September simple:

Write one story per day motivated by STORYADAY
Attend at least 1 IRL writing group meeting.
Post at least once a week on the blog.

I am starting some new writing projects and groups with 7th graders at work this month and I am super excited about the program creation and execution.

I have not been reading as much as normal lately. My reading diet has consisted of short stories and blogs mostly. Winter is coming though so I will have more time soon…maybe! ha ha

Goals that were publicly stated for August:

3 blog posts a week – Yes! Done.
2 articles on Medium – Yes! Done.
Revise 4 stories (at least) – Yes! Done.

Submit 5 stories– goal is to have 5 out at all times – Only submitted 3
Mine my notes in my GOOGLE DOCS – Yes, I also updated some folders. I need to get my notebooks under control. They are everywhere. I use them for different purposes but I feel I am losing things in them being scattered.
Go to writer group at least once a month – I went to both meetings


Marc D Hans is Amazing!

There have been several times in the trajectory of my teaching career over 22 years that I have questioned whether I am in the right place and doing the right things. I’ve been struggling with this concept for quite a while.

Tuesday my mindset shifted while listening to Marc D. Hans.  He is a man who does a lot and deals in Design Thinking. He is so much more than a teacher. After listening to him, I feel like I am in the right place again. I cannot put my finger on exactly what he said that resonated but overall he was INSPIRING. I needed to be inspired by someone dynamic. During the experiences he led us through I was ALL IN. It felt amazing and everything that he said made sense to me. I will be coming back again and again to my notes for the weeks to come. 

5 Takeaways (there were so many more for me!)

  1. Storytelling – every concept he talked about was connected to a story from his life. We were able to get to know him and he made his point. Even though I know that narrative is how our brains like to learn I often forget. Marc reminded me.
  2. Be Comfortable with the Uncomfortable – Being an introvert causes me to push out of my comfort zone with people all the time. The first activity he did that dealt with our phones pushed me – but I did it and I didn’t die. I have to remember that sometimes the payoff is better than the uncomfortable feeling. This idea ties into me sharing my own writing too.
  3. Make the SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE – naming things and examining exactly what it is can give perspective. Our perception of how people might react causes us to not start things because of our own limitations. We talk ourselves out of a lot and get in our own way. It reminds me to ask myself, “What is the worst that can happen?” Usually, it isn’t as bad as I first think.
  4. Humans crave GENUINE EXPERIENCES with others. I vow to stop answering “Fine” or “Good” when people ask me how I am.
  5. “Relationships are the difference between being a teacher and an employee.” How we care about the adults and students around us matters.

The literacy coach and consultant Lisa Vahey has been a jewel in my life over the past two years. There are many reasons for this fact,  but the most prominent in connection to today’s post is that she has introduced me to people that I never would have met any other way.  I never would have met Marc if it wasn’t for Lisa.

I am so glad that I was able to go to the workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday. I really left feeling inspired and I had some great conversations with teachers I work with.

I encourage you to look up these two people – you will not be sorry. You might even get inspired too!


Everyone Needs A Bag Of Tricks

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As a person, I am scattered a lot of the time. Partly, it is my personality. Partly, it is because my life dictates it. Different personality traits tend to work within different roles I occupy in my existence. I believe quality work comes from focus. If I am having a hyper-focused period I can get a heap of work done and I feel on top of the world. Other times I am drudging through trying to find more time. In order for writing to be read, it has to get written.

I love hearing about other writers’ and teachers’ processes. I always think there is going to be a magical idea that will make the difference. I change processes always trying something new. It if works for you, keep it or modify it for you. Pay attention to what speaks to you.

As a writer, I distract myself with all kinds of activities but that can cost me. (Hello Twitter and random rabbit holes of information on the internet). You might be reading this blog as an aversion right now. So read the post and get back to work.

Let’s maximize our time and get more done with some tips about productivity.

Put these tricks in your bag of brilliance.

Trick 1: Don’t Spin Your Wheels

Don’t get in your own way and waste time with silly mistakes. Make sure you are following the guidelines for your project. Make notes for each project to focus on and remember where they are! Keep notes, resources, and research for the same project together. I often need to remember this myself. I have started writing short reminders at the top of the doc for the current project for quick reference that includes word count, graphics or not, research still left to do, and special instructions for this project.

Trick 2: Don’t Let the Good Ones Get Away

My ideas and interesting sentences come to me mostly at the wrong times – when I am in the shower, or driving or waiting in a line. Yesterday I had to wait for about 3 hours over the course of the day. Instead of getting irritated I researched and got some planning done. I think about what I am working on all the time, but my mind doesn’t stop. There is no perfect time for ideas to hit you. I am able to get more words on the page when I sit down to write them if I have been marinating on the ideas. I use the time to think about phrasing and connections to bigger ideas. More time thinking away from the computer means more completed projects. The magic doesn’t happen by accident even though we want everyone around us to think so.

Trick 3: Never Be Alone

Going back to the idea of being scattered – Keep a notebook with you at all times. I like paper for notes ideally but I spend a lot of time on the go. I have the Google Keep app on my home screen. I can write and send it to my drive easily. I don’t have to waste time rewriting those notes. You never know when lightning strikes and you have to be ready. There is nothing more frustrating than a great sentence floating away into the sky because you didn’t have anything to write it down with. As a juggler of life and time, we have to take advantage of time in the edges. Write it down immediately! Ideas fly away fast when they aren’t captured.

I like the KEEP app because you can open different notes for different projects and label it. I have a list I keep of 10 writing ideas. For me, 10 is the magic number. Not only does this help with the current project but if lightning strikes for a new idea you work on for another time. All great ideas must be captured!

Trick 4: Talk To Yourself

My thoughts run a little wild sometimes. I joke with my friends that I have too many drawers open in my brain at one time. You too? I have to use a dictation function when I cannot write, usually in the car or on a run for me. This one takes some getting used to. If you do not speak clearly sometimes you get some pretty weird word combinations. It isn’t all bad, sometimes I work the weird phrase into a piece!

Trick 5: They Are Called Deadlines for a Reason

No one wants to miss an important opportunity because cannot remember the date. Yes, we get busy but deadlines are deadlines. As a professional, you must turn your work in on time. Google or another calendar app can help block schedule time with a specific purpose so you get the work done. I schedule a lot into my calendar. In fact, I do this first thing in the morning. Then my phone alerts me to what I had planned to do that morning. Nothing calls a scattered mind to focus like an alert from yourself on your phone.

Trick 6: Sometimes it is a no pants day…sometimes it is not

I am a pantser no matter what I am writing. I like to write “from the seat of my pants”. I DO NOT LIKE TO PLAN, but I get more words done in a shorter period of time if I do. I make a lot of lists. I use a formula to figure out words per 15 minute chunk and allot time frames for myself. Then I put my ass in the chair so I write better, faster.