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?