It’s the journey

Does this ever happen to you? You sit down to write and what appears on the page doesn’t exactly say what you want it to say. Or your writing meanders all over the place, with fits and starts and topics emerging from who knows where. Or your writing starts out with one idea and veers off completely to something else entirely.

Writing gurus exhort us to relish those moments. Often, as Peter Elbow reminds us, these side trips reveal something important, and even if they don’t, the detour matters. Anne Lamott says to celebrate “shitty drafts.” Why not? We all create them. What kernels can come out of them? Maybe nothing, but we write anyway.

Student writers need to see their writing teachers write. We share our drafts with them. They are our peer conferrers. We demystify the process. Just as we model our reading process with think alouds, we demonstrate our writing process by sharing what we write—not the final draft only, but all of the struggles along the way.

When my writing veers off course, when my writing doesn’t have a point, when my writing is just plain bad (which occurs more often than I want to think about), I just keep going. It’s the journey, right?





5 thoughts on “It’s the journey

  1. I really like how you share the struggle of writing without making it seem “bad”. I know a lot of students associate struggling with being bad at something. This would be a great piece to share with them, to show that the struggle is really just a journey, like walking a bumpy path–you’re not bad at walking just because the path is bumpy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the reminder. I should share more with my students. I get caught up in conferencing and commenting and neglect sharing my own writing. And we all need to give ourselves permission to do things badly – it’s the growth mindset.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Completely! I hardly ever end up with where I begin with a draft and I hardly ever post what I plan to post. Most mornings I sit down to publish my draft. I reread it and then decide…. not today. I then write something completely different. The process is really complicated and rarely linear – kids need to know that.
    Thanks for reminding us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is a journey. Instead of a “shitty draft” I have what I call a dump journal. It’s pretty much the same thing and even the two terms have a connection. I just write what’s on my mind and then go back and go back again and polish it off. Sometimes I just raise an eyebrow and wonder what was I thinking! Oh well…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s