Writing Without a Model – #Slice 27 of 31

As I’m in the home stretch of Slice of Life Challenge posts for 2013, I’m thinking about how much easier it has gotten for me to sit down and write these than it was at the beginning of the month…or than when I wrote my first one over a year ago. I spent a lot of time looking at what other people were writing before I committed one single character to my blog. All kinds of questions ran through my head when I looked over their posts: What kinds of topics were they writing about? Who did they seem to be writing for? What kind of tone did they use? How formal were they? How long?


The more I read, the more I felt comfortable with trying to find my own voice and write about what strikes me as interesting at the moment.

(Yeah, I know…they explain all of that on the Two Writing Teachers site. I know…but I had to see what that looked like for myself. Examples. Models. All that stuff we tell our kids we do…and actually do ourselves.)

I did the same exact thing while I was attempting to figure out Twitter when I started there ages ago. I watched to see what and how people were writing, cramming their thoughts down into 140 characters and what the rules for interaction appeared to be. (And those crazy # thingies took a while for me to figure out…who knew that they would lead me to some incredible people and communities. Glad I stuck that one out!)

So tonight I had something I needed to write and I went through all of my usual pre-writing strategies. Look at the “assignment.” Jot some notes down about what needs to be in it. Circle half of those notes because they might not fit for the audience. Look for examples. Re-evaluate notes. Write first draft. Revise. Revise. Revise.

Except I got stuck at the “Look for examples” stage because there were none to consult.

After about looking at about 20 sites that had interesting reading material – though absolutely not what I was looking for…good heavens is the internet a maze of distractions!* – I realized that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for.

I had to >gasp!< figure it out for myself.

I did, but I sent it off with a nagging sense of uncertainty about whether it was what it was supposed to be.

(I’m sure if it needs reworking, it will come back with some constructive criticism or some models to help me.)

Of course, I had a model for something that I had to write last night – something that had been on my to-do list for over a week – and it was a struggle to write that, too.

(I am restraining myself from checking my inbox to see if I got any response from either person I sent my writing to…mostly I’m just curious to see whether I did what I needed to do.)

I’m thinking about all of this as a writer myself, writing things that I are novel to me. I want models. I want feedback, a response of some kind – the sooner the better.

Heavens, let’s be honest here: I think that anyone who shares his/her writing with at least one other person is hoping to get some kind of feedback somehow. (And let me just tell you…your comments have been ridiculously motivating over the past 26 posts…don’t let me down on the 27th!)

What this makes me want to do as a teacher is find a way to clone myself. Or to not need sleep. Or find a way to get that darned Time-Turner fixed. Because meaningful response takes time. Time to read what they write. Time to think about what to say.

I know I cannot possibly respond to every single thing my kids write or else they won’t ever write much. Or else I won’t get much of anything else done. This, I know. But I do know that that feedback is so motivating and powerful at getting me to want to write more that I need to make it a priority to respond to students on a more frequent basis.

Since this teacher still needs sleep (with no goals to give it up in the future), I’ll call it a night and rise and shine early tomorrow, ready to go write some more notes to students before another day of inservice starts.

*For some reason the thought of the Lotus-Eaters popped into my head. That sense of having no concept of the passage of time or responsibility, being fed trance-inducing fruit of the lotus… Not sure why that would have come to mind…maybe I should go look it up on the internet…


8 thoughts on “Writing Without a Model – #Slice 27 of 31

  1. I’m with you – I always study the type of writing before doing it myself. And just yesterday a fabulous student I had in 4th grade came and asked me to write her a recommendation letter for a scholarship. She’s a senior and I need to write this for her guidance counselor. My first thought – what mentor texts can I look at? I’ve not written one of these before. Oh boy! I need to get hopping on this. :) Glad you enjoyed the slice challenge – I loved it last year and it has been fun this year as well.

  2. Love this line, “But I do know that that feedback is so motivating and powerful at getting me to want to write more that I need to make it a priority to respond to students on a more frequent basis.” This to me is the difference between a writing teacher and a teacher of writers. Glad you’re making more time for feedback!

  3. It’s funny how different we can be as writers, too. I see Katherine’s comment about using a mentor text to write a recommendation letter – and I would totally look for one for a purpose like that. I also agonize over any posts that I send to someone else’s blog. I have small panic attacks until it gets posted (or until I hear back that they like it). Often I can’t even go read it once it is published, for fear that even after agonizing over every word choice that I’ll hate it. This is probably the main reason I’ll never be “published” anywhere but the internet.

    For my own blog, though? I most often just start to type, then look it over and click “publish”. My blog posts are mostly rough drafts.

    • I tend not to agonize over blog posts. I do, however, walk away from them and make sure I’m not posting something that I won’t really want out there later. Good rule to follow, too. I have chucked a few posts after reflecting on them. I haven’t really sent anything to anyone else’s blog. (Other than that video review we did when we were in Vegas that Colby posted to his blog. My reaction was mostly that I have a face/voice for blogging…I’ll leave the videos to Colby.) I’m not sure how I’d feel about posting elsewhere.

  4. I just wrote a slice about this month of writing for me and I’m so interested now in reading how other Slicers felt about their writing experience… I love how you take us on your inquiring journey of your writing here and everywhere :)

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