Writing about writing

Posts tagged ‘teaching’

Butt in chair

As a writing instructor as well as a writer-wanna-be, I have read and taught more times than I am able to count about the importance of “butt-in-chair” when it comes to writing. The most basic answer to the question “how do I write?” is for the would-be writer to sit down and write–whether it be by hand or digitally doesn’t matter. What matters is putting the butt in a chair and writing.

Period.

Ha!

Haha!

Hahaha!

Yeah. Right.

If only it were that easy.

Because, see, here’s the problem: the moment I put my butt in my chair to write, I think about the hundred other things that I need to be doing–the 100 things that honestly have priority over writing–except during NaNoWriMo (November). At the top of that list of important projects is the grading that always needs to be done. If you teach, then you know that even before you finish grading one assignment, another is already waiting behind it to be graded.

And if grading isn’t the top priority, then prep work is. Any good teacher knows that even when we have assignments that we recycle, assignments are constantly being improved upon or simply changing based on class personality or needs. Which means, then, that even seasoned teachers such as myself are always doing prep work.

Since my son is currently a teenager, he no longer needs to live in mommy’s pocket, but yet because he is an only child, he loves having my undivided attention. That means that my son–my family–more often than not takes priority over my writing.

With all that being said, though, I have this desperate need deep in my very soul to write. I love to write. I love to journal. I love to write for my blogs. I have participated in NaNo for more than 10 years, off and on, and won at least half of those years. I love writing letters. I even enjoy writing up assignments for my classes.

So while I do have to prioritize because that is simply the way life goes, writing is and always will be lurking just below whatever item is at the very top of my list of priorities…which means that I will always find a way and time to put my butt in my chair and write–even if that means writing for no more than half an hour!

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To teach or not to teach….

Back in September of 2016, a trusted friend of mine told me about a writing class that was being offered through the Continuing Education department of my college. As a wanna-be-published-author, I jumped at the opportunity to take a class on furthering my career, especially once I learned that we would write a book and publish it by the end of the class! What aspiring author wouldn’t want such an opportunity?!

I signed up for the class, but it was post-poned until this year. In the meantime, I talked a friend of mine who is also a writer-wanna-be to take the class with me. We were both uber-excited about it and talked about it all the time. We even arrived at the class more than an hour early!

As is typical, we spent the first part of the class introducing ourselves and getting to know a little about one another. It was fun! There were nine ladies and the male instructor! We were all eager and ready to learn about self-publishing and happy to know that the others in the class were like-minded.

Our instructor then gave us about a half hour to brainstorm story ideas. After going around the room to share our ideas, he shared his story idea about a suicidal dog—for an audience of 7 to 10 year olds.

In all seriousness, what is YOUR response to reading that??? (Before you read any further, I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

To a woman, our response was, “Ummm, that’s way too dark for a children’s story. No.”

For the next half hour, our instructor proceeded to tell us to “trust him” (I lost count of how many times he said that) and that he knows, beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt, that there is an audience for such a story. It was clear not only by the reactions of the ladies in the room but also by how insistent our instructor was that we “trust him” that this subject matter was not kosher across the board.

While discussing this situation with a co-worker, I was asked what the instructor has published. I am ashamed to say that I had not researched that. I knew our instructor has a travel blog that has been picked up by a local newspaper, but beyond that, I had not heard of anything else he had published. So we looked him up—we googled him, and we searched Amazon and Barnes & Noble—nothing. We kept getting links to the blog he’d already shown us. And his blog entries did not impress me.

I felt like an idiot.

Honestly, how in the world is this guy going to teach me about something he hasn’t even done himself???

How would YOU feel if you found out that your instructor hadn’t even done what he/she is asking you to do? Don’t you typically go into a learning situation with a basic assumption—understanding—that the instructor has done what he/she is teaching? That the instructor not only has had the instruction, but he/she has also DONE the lesson?!

From my perspective, it did NOT inspire confidence in me. In fact, it discouraged me enough that I have made the decision not to return to the class.

I truly would love to hear some thoughts about this….

11-28

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