Isn’t it strange how the advice you give to others is often the very advice you need yourself?
As 2018 approached, I started contemplating what my writing goals for the New Year would be. While doing this, I kept replaying a writing conference I recently had with a 5th grade student.
Jennifer was writing a personal narrative about a time when she was waiting in line to go on a ride at an amusement park. She wasn’t sure if she was going to be allowed due to her small size. When she got to the front of the line, she discovered that she was, in fact just tall enough. She wrote well about the excitement she felt in that moment, but something didn’t feel right.
I asked her if excitement was the only emotion she felt. She paused and then said that although she was in fact excited, she was also nervous because she had barely made the size requirement and was worried about getting hurt. It’s harder, she admitted to write showing both of those feelings.
We had a conversation about writing honestly even when it’s hard. I challenged her to try and write that story describing the mixed emotions that she felt.
The end result was a more thoughtful, more honest piece of writing
It’s time I took my own advice! For 2018 I am going to try and write with more honesty. I’m going to question everything I write in the same way I questioned Jennifer: Did I write what is easy or what is true? It will be a little scary to put myself out there like that because people may not always agree or like what I have to say. But I am certain that writing with honesty will bring me to new levels of thinking and pave the way for thoughtful conversations with colleagues.
Happy New Year to all! May we all write and speak with more honesty!
Leah is literacy consultant who specializes in K-5 Reading and Writing Workshops. Leah works with schools, districts, educational organizations, and universities to help teachers, literacy coaches, and principals grow in their understanding of how to teach reading and writing to elementary students. In addition to consulting with schools and institutions to develop Reading and Writing Workshops, Leah is also the author of four books and a DVD. She muses about teaching writing at www.leahmermelstein.com. She tweets @MermelsteinLeah. You can also connect with her on Facebook at Leah Mermelstein.