Tuesday, May 8, 2018

When I Stick With It by Fran Haley

Writing is mysterious.

When I start spilling words on the page, I never know what’s going to happen. I usually have a glimmer of an idea, as fine as a grain of sand, or as fragile as a sand dollar that washes ashore. I find these in pieces.

Ideas, like sand dollars, hardly ever arrive whole, intact.
I heard a scientist say:  “The beach is alive. There’s so much more going on under the sand than what we see.”

Writing is like that.

In my mind, ideas lie buried under all kinds of daily strata; I sift the clutter to see if any little treasures shake out.

Some bits don’t seem very appealing, like shell fragments that a beachcomber ignores, but here’s what I’ve noticed: The simplest things spark deep connections, reveal hidden meanings. An example: Trying to compose a blog post when I was exhausted, I felt I had nothing of value to say. All I wanted was to go to bed and sleep. I couldn’t shake the image of burrowing under the blankets . . . so that’s what I wrote about. The blanket quickly became a metaphor for the love of my family, wrapped tight around me. I thought, Well, it’s done. It’s meaningful to me, but I doubt anyone else will be interested.

That post set the record on my blog for the most likes.


Ideas and images come for a reason, with messages that the writer, as receiver, has the singular calling to interpret and convey. I’m often in awe of where the writing leads when I stick with it.

I’ve learned, above all, that writing is a relationship. It’s alive. Work at it, and the writing will work for you; stay faithful to the writing, and the writing stays faithful to you.

Fran Haley is a K-12 English Language Arts educator currently serving as a K-5 literacy coach. Writing is her favorite thing to do and to teach; she loves helping others of all ages grow to love writing. She facilitates writing workshop training for teachers in her district and authors the blog Lit Bits and Pieces: Snippets of Learning and Life. Connect with her on Twitter: @fahaley.


  1. Fran, I've had a similar experience with a blog post. I think it was the authentic voice that made it work for me. Sometimes we fight that voice. We think it's not good enough. I love the image of the pieces of sand dollars. Ideas are those fragments. Writing is that mysterious glue that puts the pieces of our lives together.

  2. So well-put about writing being the mysterious glue that puts the pieces of our lives together. And you’re right about our fighting the voice & thinking it’s not good enough - it’s often why we hesitate to share our work. We have to trust the process and the voice, that it will all come together. A piece at the time. Thanks so much, Margaret.

  3. I also agree that writing is a living, growing thing. So often, it morphs and changes right before my eyes. Other times, patience pays off as words reveal themselves in time (and when THEY are ready). Thank you for writing for us again, Fran!

  4. Thank you & TeachWrite for the opportunity to share, Jennifer! It’s a joy. Sometimes I think writing falls under what I call the “Hold on Loosely” philosophy, as in the song by 38 Special:

    Hold on loosely
    But don’t let go
    If you cling too tightly
    You’re gonna lose control.

    Writing cannot be forced; it has to come, as you said, when it’s ready. An organic, natural, mysterious outpouring - we’re recievers of the messages, relaying them as best we can. Thank you again!


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