Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Work in Progress by Emily Zuccaro

Maintaining writing momentum has been the elephant in the room all summer.

I’m currently writing my dissertation and I am trying to write every day to move the project forward to graduate in December 2018. This is the biggest writing goal I’ve ever had.

I’ve been thinking about how I can keep momentum and accountability.

This is what I’m thinking…

Writing Plan: Am I going to wake up and start writing? Can I sit for an hour and type after dinner? When can I go to the gym? The more intentional I become about blocking off some writing time, the more it actually happens. Additionally, planning to always have my computer and external hard drive with me so I can pull them out at any time.

Writing Community: Luckily for me, the University of Louisville has an established writing community and I make myself participate- no matter how tired or stressed I am. I have participated in writing retreats and now I attend a writing group once a week where I can sit and write and talk about writing.

Self-care: Seeing a movie with my family? Check. Getting a pedicure? Check. These things matter.

I have learned that even if I write a bunch of junk, I have still put words on a page that I can reshape at a later time. This used to trip me up. If it wasn’t the “perfect” way to write, I would hem and haw over the order of my writing, the word choice. It’s a lot of pressure in Ph.D. land because you are evaluated so much on the quality of your writing- but behind the scenes, the process is murky and weird and lovely all at the same time.  I have learned it’s okay to have unpolished thoughts on the page. Like my career and my life, my writing is a work in progress :)

Emily Zuccaro is a doctoral candidate at the University of Louisville studying elementary literacy education and language learning. She loves coffee shops and libraries and walking the Big Four Bridge. She is supported by her boyfriend, Tyler, their son, Brinley, and their two cats and dog. You can follow her on Twitter @miss_zuccaro.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Keeping My Promises by Crystal Kelley

Maintaining writing momentum implies that one has started.  Getting started is one of the hardest parts for me. Once I begin a writing project, momentum carries me naturally. This movement,  this river current, has its obstacles but keeps a flow. Showing up for the page every day is like feeding birds: the birds will be ready if you consistently arrive. It isn’t easy. This is especially difficult when you are beginning fresh, without a particular direction.

Each year, our writer’s workshop strengthens in the classroom: opportunities to write for authentic audiences, more time to explore ourselves as writers, and stronger choices in writing endeavors. Each year, I work to model more of my own writing with whatever it is students are working on so that I can travel with them on the journey. Each year, it is vividly evident that in doing so, students are genuinely engaged in themselves as writers.

But, I miss the page.

I miss playing in my notebook: the words, surprising gems, randomness, and meanderings without direction that sometimes take on the form of poems.  I miss the raw creativity that leads down one path only to take another and finds its own current. I miss the momentum that is born of this arriving each day to the page.

Someone told me something at lunch today that sparked my thinking.  She said we keep our word with friends and honor our time with those we care about, but we tend to flake out on ourselves when it comes to self-care. I realized that I’ve flaked out on my promises too often this year as a writer. The page silently nudges me most days, sometimes it screams for my attention, at moments least expected and untimely.  As a mom and teacher, I struggle in taking time for me--the writer, the poet.

This year, I will strive to be as forgiving with myself as the page is with me. I will say yes to writing retreats with other teacher-writers; the energy it ignites is incomparable. I will create time for myself the writer, the poet, which will enrich other facets of my writing. This year, we will play in our notebooks more so that students can invent their own energy for writing. This year, I will feed the birds.

Crystal Kelley is from Albuquerque, NM, taught there, in Syracuse, New York, and now in San Marcos, Texas.  She holds an MAT from SUNY at Empire State, and currently teaches high school English and AVID.  As a teacher consultant with the Central Texas Writing Project at Texas State University, Crystal works to support new teachers in their writing endeavors. When she is not doing teacherly things, she is playing outdoors with her three kids, squeezing in time to write, and cooking with her husband. Connect with Crystal @cryskelley9 on Twitter and student writing at

Monday, August 27, 2018

Did I Write Today? by Erin Vogler

I struggle with consistency and momentum in my writing life.  I’ll be all in for a short period of time, writing and playing in my notebooks or adding ideas to my notes app on my phone, and then a busy or difficult day happens, and the writing stops.

It wasn’t until recently that I figured out why that happens.  I think I make it too hard, set my expectations too high. Writing daily is writing daily, whether it is a single line of reflection or page after page of winding narrative.  The reality of this writing life is that some days warrant that single line while others lead to the winding narrative. Some days I have ten minutes to sit down with my notebook, and others I have hours.

I would love to be the kind of person who gets up early and writes for an hour every single day or even the person who stays up late each evening and writes page after page.  I am neither exclusively, and sometimes I’m both.  The ideas don’t come at the same time every day, but ideas do show up every single day.  So I need to show up as well. 

My best strategy for capturing them is making sure that I have my phone or a notebook with me everywhere I go.  The more consistent I am about having a tool available to record my writing and thinking, the more consistent the writing becomes. When the writing is consistent, a quiet momentum builds.

But it’s still hard, and sometimes I make it harder than it needs to be.  I turn skipped writing days into criticisms and create a battle for grit when the solution probably lies in extending myself a bit more grace. Instead of beating myself up over how much (or how little) I’ve written, I think I just need to rely on my response to a simple question: Did I write today?

The goal is to answer yes more frequently than no. It means pushing myself to write even when I feel like there isn’t much to say, and knowing that some days a line or two is enough. Small daily steps build a habit. Baby steps build momentum.

Never a day without a line. Some days that will be literal, and on others, many lines will turn into pages.  For a writing life to have any momentum, both have to be okay. 

Erin Vogler teaches middle and high school English at Keshequa Central School in the Genesee Valley in Western New York.  She can be found on Twitter @vogler3024 and Instagram @mrsvogler3024. She is spending her summer regaining her writing momentum and reading as many books as she can.  

Friday, August 24, 2018

Writing Both Inside and Outside the Classroom by Tiffany Rehbein

The view from my summer school classroom was endless.

Chris Ledoux, a country music star born and raised in Wyoming, said the following about his home state: "But if they ever saw a sunrise on a mountain morning/Watched those cotton candy clouds roll by/They'd know why I live beneath these Western Skies."

Every morning, a sloping blue sky kissing the hilltops on the horizon greeted me. Pink and purple Indian Paintbrush disrupted the grays, greens, and browns of the landscape.

Rather than view the vistas from the classroom, I began to wonder how our writing might reflect that landscape. Maintaining writing momentum from nature to the classroom happened quite accidentally.

To begin, I provided mentor texts that I read aloud. Students recognized great writing and powerful passages and sentences. Because the mentor texts were short, students were not intimidated by the amount of writing they were expected to produce. I told them we would be outside in nature; I asked them to write.  And they did.

I didn't intend to bring my writing into the classroom. After taking my Writer's Notebook outside to model writing for the students, I settled in to write a poem, my favorite genre.

We changed locations after 30 minutes, and my second approach to writing was a brainstorm of ideas for fall implementation at school. Writing is fluid, and organic, and necessary. Writing purposes change constantly. At that moment, it was necessary to capture my thinking as I planned for the upcoming school year.

When a student called on me to share during our verbal read around, it was unexpected, yet I shared.

A lone yellow-breasted Western Meadowlark
          sings his mating call
          to no one.

If you plan to bring your writing into the classroom this fall, here are some tips that I learned:

  • Read it aloud (and proud!)
  • Plan activities for students that you would take part in
  • Arrange for mentor texts to show all the different ways writing can look (it’s okay to write a poem followed by a list of ideas to improve your teaching – let the students know that’s okay, too)
  • Ask students what they need for their writing (e.g., My students did NOT need a prompt or an answer to the question,  "How long does it need to be?" They just needed time and space.)

Writing and the Wyoming landscape brought each of us out of the classroom and into a shared space of observation, creativity, and togetherness, maintaining writing momentum both inside and outside of the classroom.

Tiffany Rehbein is a former high school English teacher and current English Language Arts District Coordinator. She and her family live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Follow Tiffany @Rehb31 on Twitter and follow her blog at  

Thursday, August 23, 2018

My Writing Makes Me a Better Teacher by Alexis Teevens

Summer felt like the perfect time to develop a writing habit. I have read books and books about the importance of being a teacher-writer to help support students, and I love to write. I’ve just been very good at finding other “more important” things to do besides writing since graduating from college.

I’m learning that structure and accountability are as important for me as they are for my kids. Joining a TeachWrite summer course that focused on developing a writing habit introduced me to veteran teachers who have built writing habits.

While it could have been intimidating to talk to these teachers who already seem to do what I want to do, it wasn’t. The honest admission that writing is always hard, no matter how long or how often you’ve done it, was just what I needed to hear.

With the support of that group, I decided to start a blog. I’ve stayed away from blogging in the past because I felt that I didn’t have anything worth sharing. Honesty, though, I think I worried most about not being able to develop an “audience”.

Then, I realized, who cares? I want to write in a more structured way so that I can relate to my students and so that I can reflect on my teaching practice.

That’s given me a why. I don’t want to write just to have a blog, or to reach a million people, or to make money. I want to write because it will make me a better teacher and a better person, and I hope having that why will help me build and keep momentum well into the school year.

Alexis Teevens is a 7th grade English and social studies teacher in East Boston, MA. She’s about to start her 6th year in the classroom, and she feels increasingly humbled and entertained by her kids. Alexis is excited to start connecting with more teachers on Twitter (@lexteevens), and she just started blogging at

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Best Laid Plans by Michelle Olson

This summer I had the best intentions. I had found a community of writers and heard about several amazing writing opportunities that I could participate in while at home, on my schedule. I bought a new notebook just for the 100 Days of Summer Writing. I printed the daily slides for easy access. Then the time came to start writing and I would find excuses not to write. Even as I write this post, I am ashamed to admit that I have not been writing much at all.

As I look ahead to the school year, I know I need to be a writer in my own life so I can honestly encourage my students to be writers in their lives. I have been thinking that I am expecting my students to do something that I do not do consistently...write. I make time to read, so I need to make time to write as well.

My goal for the remainder of the summer is to begin writing more often. Even if it begins as just once a week, it will be a start. I have a blog that I do not utilize effectively as a place to write. I have a fun new notebook that I have not used much at all. But that needs to change. I am getting ready to head on vacation and am wanting to journal the trip with my daughters. Talk about a great place to start!

It is time to open the notebooks. Happy writing!

Michelle Olson is a reading specialist by day and wife, mom, and Usborne book lady by night. She recently earned my doctorate and focused on students’ attitudes towards themselves as writers and their own writing. Follow her on Twitter at @molson414 and at her blog, Books on the Back Porch: She is also a contributor for the Reading by Example blog:

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Gaining Momentum by Jowan Nabha

Writing words on paper may sound simple enough. Just write. As much as we speak, writing should just come naturally. It can’t be that hard, right? Well, it is. Harder than anything I have learned to do in my life. With most things, you learn there are specific directions on how to make it work. How to bake a cake. How to fold your bed sheets so they’re nice and crisp. Writing, however. has no prescribed directions. Yes, there are techniques to writing and becoming an effective writer. However, you first have to be able to write them down. Only you can pull those words out of your head.

What I’ve learned this year about myself as a writer is that I write best at night. Something about being a night owl opens up my creative juices. Some of my best work (if you can call it that) has come late at night when everyone in my house is fast asleep and I’m left alone with my laptop. My creative juices are put to work and the words just seem to flow. Many times the words are jumbled and need editing, but I guess that’s the messy part of writing. I’m just happy I found out just how amazing writing truly is.

My summer goal of writing 15 minutes or more a day hasn’t become a reality quite yet. I am making tired excuses for myself why it’s ok for me not to write that day. Life gets busy. I had too many errands to run. I ran out of ideas. The list continues. However, when I write, I feel overwhelmed with joy. Even if all I did was edit a sentence I wrote the day before, I feel I am making progress. Progress. It’s what’s slowly building daily to finally becoming the check mark made on that to-do list. Writing for 15 minutes daily will be checked off soon. and soon my 30-minute goal will be checked off soon as well. Who knows, I might reach the 1-hour writing goal before year end.

Jowan Nabha is an accountant turned teacher. She is currently studying Early Childhood Education at the University of Michigan - Dearborn. She’s married and has three daughters to whom she devotes all her time to. Jowan can be reached at or follow her on Twitter @jowan_nabha

Monday, August 20, 2018

Going "All-In" by Tammy Breitweiser

In recent months, I have learned that to maintain my writing process I must go “all in.” What that means for me is I must write every day because writing makes me happy. I have not set a word count or a time limit. I find that if I self-impose a rule, being a rebel at heart, I won't follow it - even if I set it for myself. I have to keep it partly arbitrary to keep it motivating.

I do make it a priority.
I do take notes.
I do make a list of 10 ideas every day.

My blog is a great motivation to write. The feedback, the comments, the likes, and the interactions with teachers,  writers, readers, and teacher-writers is amazing. I am always looking at my life and experiences for interesting content to write about for either the blog or a short story and how that will be relevant to my readers.

I read an article this week about a teacher who used NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) as a writing exercise in his classes which reminded me students are motivating for me to write. Little people make my writing life richer. This fall I want to start a Short Story Club. I want to read them and then write them with students. Since I'm all about mentor texts stories, writing them is right along with my teaching style.

Recently, I started to refer to myself as a writer, not a with a capital W, but a lowercase. I write everyday. I publish on a blog. I submit to publications  I am part of a writer group. I will use my writer status to influence the people around me to see themselves as writers to whatever level they deem appropriate. A bonus is I improve my teaching and stay motivated. I am always learning about the process by reading and interacting. Hopefully this fall, I can rope my fellow coaches into some writing too. Motivation to be shared!

I’ll keep you posted.

Tammy L. Breitweiser is a curriculum coach in Northwest Indiana where she is currently dedicated to impacting student achievement in grades 7 and 8. With more than 22 years of experience, she is a reading advocate who believes in the reading and writing connection. She is working a collection of short stories and poems and a book about teaching writing.  You can connect with Tammy on Twitter (@tlbreit) or through her blog Tammy’s Reading/Writing Life:

Friday, August 17, 2018

More than a Facilitator by Tracy Vogelgesang

I love teaching writing.  I love encouraging kids as they dabble in creating their own narratives or composing a research report that enlightens and entertains the reader.  No matter the genre, I encourage them to play with words and sentences, finding the perfect combination to say exactly what they want to say.  They love the freedom to choose, create, and find their voices in my room, and parents often thank me for helping their children learn to love writing.

There was only one problem.  I lived my own writing dreams through my learners. I facilitated a community of writers, but I was not one among them. 

Cue: mindset shift.  This summer has been a summer of reflection and growth as a teacher who writes.

Prior to my participation in the Teach Write community, I considered myself a teacher who dreams of being a writer...someday.  I held this dream of becoming a writer for most of my life, yet for various reasons, I denied myself permission to realize my dream.  My yearning to write, though, continued to grow, so I decided to do something about it.

My participation in the Teach Write community encourages my writing voice to step out of the shadows and be heard.  I am learning that taking “me time” to write each day is okay, in fact, necessary.

I will be returning to school living my own writing life along with my classroom writing community.  I will facilitate, yes, but I will do so by sharing my own writing experiences.  The thought of sharing this precious time with my students motivates me and helps me look at my instruction and curricula with fresh eyes.

My personal writing time has become a non-negotiable.  I will make time for it somehow in my daily schedule.  Whether it be five minutes or an hour, I want to be sure that I show up for my students and myself.  I cannot wait to see what this school year holds in my community of writers!

Tracy Vogelgesang currently teaches writing and science for grades 3-5. She has been teaching for 25 years and loves helping students discover their voices and realize the strengths and gifts they bring to this world. Tracy spends her free time building memories with her husband, children, grandchildren, and sweet little Jack Russell terrier. She also writes, reads, gardens, and enjoys time with friends. Tracy can be found on Twitter @Mrs_T_V.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

6 Steps to Keep Teacher-Writers Moving Forward All Year Long by Lisa Burns

Once a new school year begins, my days become full and my new habits can fall by the wayside. No matter how well intentioned I am, it’s difficult to maintain my writing habit in the midst of the Back-to-School hustle and bustle. So, how will I stoke the writing fire and keep my habit strong?

My 6 Step Plan for Keeping the Writing Habit All Year

Connect. Connecting with other writers regularly helps me stay motivated and on task. My writing group meets on Facebook, so I check in once a week.

Habit. Write daily and weekly according to my current habit. You’re thinking, “Thank you, Captain Obvious!” I know it seems obvious, but this is really more about maintaining the habit (even if it is just for 10 minutes each day). My point is, I can’t let the HABIT die or even slip. Sitting down and writing at my usual time, even if the time spent is shorter than I would like, is essential.

Write with students for a few minutes as they get started with their writing. It’s good modeling, and it’ll give me a few extra minutes of daily writing time as well.

Schedule time. If it’s not on the schedule, it’s not going to happen. I”ll continue to make a point of blocking out time for writing on my calendar. Putting writing time on my calendar with a time and date makes writing a priority, a promise to myself.

Routine. Create a morning or evening routine that includes time to write. Think autopilot. If I can make writing part of a larger routine, it can go on autopilot. Then, I’m less likely to forget or talk myself out of it.

Invite and inspire. While I have a [small] place set up to work at home, it’s been a while since I’ve spruced it up. Adding fresh flowers, painting and just re-organizing my space are on my to-do list this summer. Investing in my space will give me a little motivational boost.

I’ve got this! How about you?

With more than 20 years of experience in education, Lisa Burns has taught all grades K-6. Currently, she is a mentor teacher and instructional coach who is passionate about authentic learning in Language Arts, classroom organization and helping teachers thrive. When she is not busy supporting teachers, reading or writing, you’ll find her having fun with her family. Learn more about Lisa at or follow her on Twitter at @lisahburns, on Facebook, and on Instagram @lisa_j_burns. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Look Around by Mary Boone

Look away from your computer screen. Turn off the television. Put down your phone. Life is happening all around you; don’t miss it.
Observation is a powerful tool for writers. Details make stories come alive and those details will be more vivid, more believable if you call upon your real-life observations as a reference. The way leaves flutter in the wind, for example, can be better described by someone who has actually seen it happen than by someone who’s only seen YouTube videos of trees.
Take your notebook everywhere you go. If you’re not a practiced observer, your first observations may be more general. You’ll make notes about sounds and colors. But as you fine-tune your observation skills, you’ll begin to notice smaller details:

  • The way the butcher deftly wraps and ties up your order, always cutting exactly the right amount of twine.
  • The uneven gait of an elderly kerchiefed woman as she wheels her cart of groceries down the street.
  • The way a wailing toddler’s sobs morph into gasps as she wipes her face on her mother’s blouse.

These very real sensory details can add life to any sort of writing, even for those creating fantastical worlds. The lessons you learn by observing and recording sights, sounds, and smells will provide a foundation for any settings or characters you can imagine. Sunsets won’t simply be golden. Your observational skills, instead, will allow you to paint them in swaths of yellow and orange that melt into the hillside and steal the warmth from the summer sky.

When beginning your own observation habits – or encouraging them in your students – start small. I generally walk or run the same four-mile loop every day. I started by challenging myself to note new details on that route every time I traveled it. I began to pay closer attention to the houses I passed, the people I encountered. Today, nearly three years later, I’m still finding new details along that path to add to my daily observation notebook.

Look around. What you need to become a better writer really is out there.

Mary Boone has written more than 40 nonfiction books for young readers. She leads writing workshops at several community colleges in Washington state’s Puget Sound region. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter at @boonewrites.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

It's About the Mindset by Mario Kersey

Since 2014, I have moved into August confident that my writing life will be less disrupted by the ineluctable school year. For years prior, my bright ideas and momentum disappeared like smoke in a hurricane, because I had to attend professional development or work on a new syllabus or arrange my room.  And that’s just the workdays before school officially started.  So, what did I change? The quick answer is: I changed my mindset.

Now, don’t worry, I won’t become Dweckian here.  In the past, I stopped writing during the workdays before school started.  My thought at that time was to commit fully to whatever new theme or agenda we were pushing for the upcoming school year.  I mean I ate and slept new school year like I was prepping for a marathon.

The novel act I performed to change this behavior was to write during this preparatory phase.  Wow!  Whenever the flare of an idea lit up my mind’s eyes during the workdays, I wrote it down on whatever I had at hand.  In other words, I wrote new lines of poetry, loglines, paragraphs, or dialogue in addition to the actual projects set in motion (I created a writer’s scrapbook to keep up.).  As a result, my overall mood changed to positive because I was constantly producing something. I felt a sense of accomplishment and a growing confidence that I could be productive and successful writing during the school year.  The bigger projects were also being completed despite the usual distractions a school year engenders.

Also, I made the decision to respect my writing time more and what it brings to my teaching. My writing makes me better prepared to deal with the struggles my students will experience when explicating a poem in an essay or writing a villanelle.  By respecting my craft—both of them—life became more harmonious.

So the moral here is to write as often as possible if you can’t write every day.  Furthermore, if the opportunity presents itself, share your “pain” with your students.  It demystifies writing to them and keeps writing.

Mario Kersey studies society through the classrooms of his English students. When not teaching writing, literature, and the sometimes frustrating quirkiness of the English language, he bakes cakes, pies, and biscuits. He’s shy until someone disparages the five-paragraph essay, then the claws come out.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Just Write by Julie Cox

One of the enduring stereotypes about English teachers is that they all have unfinished novels in their desks. It sounds believable, because what teacher has time to write? Grading, conferencing, and planning are incredibly important and meaningful, but they also swallow time in great gulps. For many of us, the jolt of restarting a structured routine at the end of summer bumps any meaningful writing time right out the door.

Journaling is one of the ways I hold on to my writing when the pace of life outruns me. One year I bought a planner with space for reflection, and journaling became my Friday-afternoon tradition at my desk as I planned the next week. When I didn’t have paper handy, I jotted thoughts on index cards, sorting through my day to reframe my mind. For years, I wrote in the same kinds of composition books that my students used, sometimes as soon as they left the classroom.

Journaling isn’t about perfect writing; my goal is to capture slices of life. Making sense of them comes later when days don’t feel so rushed.

Now I write in thin Moleskine notebooks that slide easily into my bag next to whatever book I’m reading. I write in the morning before anyone else is up or at night after everyone is asleep, and I try not to be bothered that I don’t write as much as I do in the summer, or that at the start of the school year, most of what I scribble is not great or even interesting.

I just write. I keep my writing muscles in shape for the days when life calms. I watch for the treasures to reveal themselves, in my life and on the page.

Julie Cox is a high school English teacher in Kentucky, where she has taught for 17 years. When she is not teaching and writing, she loves reading and traveling with her husband and two children. You can find her online at, where she blogs sporadically, or on Twitter: CoxJulieC.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Momentum and Motivation by Kathleen Palmieri

Momentum and motivation are closely related words when it comes to a writer’s life. What motivates me as a writer differs throughout the year. As a teacher who writes, during the school year, I write lesson plans, curriculum, report card comments, and feedback on student progress to name a few. I teach methods of writing across the writing genres from narratives to research reports.

Over the summer, I immerse myself in professional, collegial conversations and studies that help move me forward as a writer of professional articles and blog posts. While my reasons for writing differ, my motivation for writing is the same: I am a lifelong learner and educator who believes that a writer’s life is a learning adventure that never ends.

As a teacher who writes, I am mindful of what fuels my writing. It is important to not only teach the mechanics and methods of writing but to share my writing life with my students. I want them to see me as a mentor, which means allowing my students to use the writing process as they edit my work.
It is important for my young writers to see how I consider their thoughts and make changes accordingly. This helps to build a safe writing community where they will feel secure in sharing their writing, providing feedback to each other, as well as maintaining writing momentum. 

So how will I bring my writing life into my classroom this fall? This summer I practiced writing observational poetry, focusing on an object or place and writing what you see, hear, what it reminds you of, and how it makes you feel. I am going to combine this genre of writing with our mindful moments, time when my students relax and are thoughtful.

What can you do to maintain your writing momentum? Set reasonable goals for how long or often you’ll write, and write down ideas when they come to you- inspiration can be fleeting. Most of all, allow your writing life to be something that brings you a sense of accomplishment and take pride in the beauty of your words.

Kathleen Palmieri is a fifth-grade teacher in upstate New York. With a passion for literacy and learning in the classroom, she participates in various writing workshops and curriculum writing endeavors. As a lifelong learner, she is an avid reader and researcher of educational practices and techniques. Kathleen blogs about books at her blog Books We Love Sharing .Collaborating with colleagues, and globally on Twitter, is an ongoing practice.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Finding the Time and Place By Shannon Anderson

As a mom, teacher, and children’s book author, I’m often asked how I find the time to write. I think it’s like anything else you’re passionate about. If you love to run, you’ll find time to build it into your schedule, whether you’re on vacation, the weather is crummy, or you’re too tired.

When my daughters were younger, it was tough to figure out just how to build in that time. If you’re a writer, you know time “writing” isn’t always just the time composing your story, poem, or book. There’s a lot of learning and researching involved. For that part of my writing, I listen to podcasts when I’m running or driving, I bring my mentor texts with me in the car, and I read books about my topic before I go to bed every night.

Once my daughters became teenagers, I transformed their playhouse in the backyard into my writing cottage. It’s the perfect spot to get away and have no distractions when I’m in writing mode. No dishes are beckoning, no phone is ringing, no TV is on in the background, and no dryer is buzzing. I’m surrounded by silence and books. There are a comfy armchair and footrest, a writing desk, and various books, cards, and pictures that inspire me.

In the house, it’s too easy to notice the dust as you search for the perfect way to say something. It’s too tempting to watch that movie your husband is enjoying instead of work on that chapter. And, there are way too many opportunities to make a snack or bake instead of finishing that rough draft.

If you’re able to clear a quiet space in your basement, spare bedroom, or shed, I highly recommend it. You could even go off to school in the evening to your empty classroom or a coffee shop. It’s hard enough to find the time to write, by finding a place you can focus, you can make the most of that time.

Shannon's Writing Shed

Shannon Anderson is a third-grade teacher and award-winning children’s book author. She’s the regional advisor for the Indiana Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a frequent presenter at writing and teaching conferences. Shannon lives in Indiana with her police chief hubby and two teenage daughters. Her newest book, Monster & Dragon Write Poems will be released on July 31, 2018.  To sign up for her free monthly newsletter go here: or to learn more about Shannon, visit

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

When You Have Momentum, But No Outlet by Ona Feinberg

I’m busy. I drive kids, snuggle kids,  make dinner for kids,  and take dog walks. When I’m busy not writing, my fingers start to itch and wiggle. Words, ideas, whole stories spill from my mind… and stop at my fingers. I have momentum, but no outlet. 

Sometimes, I sit at my laptop, a blank document in front of me. My fingers fall flat.  My ideas stick in the back of my head. I can feel them there. I imagine them jumping up and down, shouting at me through a lead door. But, I can’t hear them.  (Yet.) 

When I have ideas but no outlet, I jot notes when I can. When I have no momentum, but time in front of my computer, I write anyway. I write badly, I write notes, I just write. I’m surprised at how quickly ideas disappear when I can’t catch them, and how much bad writing it takes to get to something better.

My summer goal is to write.  As a working mom of three, there are (many) times when I’m not able to sit and write. Those times are still parts of my writing life. They are the breathing in, the development. They are the momentum getting ready to spring forth. They allow the ideas to resurface, all grown up and ready for the page.

How do you get past the hard parts of writing?
A “Golden Shovel” poem 
Inspired by"One Last Word" by Nikki Grimes

Every day you wonder, How 
Will you do the writing you said you’d do 
It’s easy to ignore directions when they come from you 
There are many ideas to get 
You need to catch them as the day zooms past 
Jot it down, or speak to text the 
Writing part can come later - it’s hard 
But, we can do hard things if we separate the parts 
Even the thinking is writing time, the pondering of 
Ideas. Even the not-writing is a kind of Writing

Ona Feinberg is a K-5 Instructional Coach in Central Pennsylvania. She began her teaching career in second grade, and started teaching 6th grade in 2001. She is passionate about teaching, reading, writing, authenticity, kindness, and her 3 children. When she isn’t at school, you might find her writing, reading, or walking her dog, Finnegan Foxy Feinberg. You can follow her on her blog, or on Twitter @OnaFeinberg

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

What I Believe About Writing by Christie Wyman

As a novice writer, I am working towards establishing a writing habit, and pondering how to keep my writing momentum going. This process has me thinking about my writing beliefs.

I believe the key to maintaining writing momentum involves...well...believing. Believing in myself, in my writing, in the process, in the product, in the message, in the possibility of sharing my work occasionally.

I believe I have thoughts and ideas that are worth preserving and in some cases sharing. Perhaps in sharing them, they’ll be found. A reader might agree or disagree. Maybe they’ll even identify with them or not. Maybe they’ll learn something new or have their interest peaked.

I believe input and even support from an occasional reader or fellow writer will buoy me and my work during struggles and celebrations.

I believe to thrive as a writer I must live. Without life’s experiences -- the good and the bad -- the creative well runs dry. As Henry David Thoreau wisely said,
“Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow…”

I believe  I can be inspired by big things like world events, small things like the Monarch spotted in my garden, and everything between.

I believe to maintain my momentum it is important for me to write because I want to write, not because I have to write.

I believe writing isn’t something to do secretly. The process is certainly private, but not secret. My students should see me write and read or listen to my writing. It’s all right for my family, friends, and colleagues to know I write.

I believe in making space for writing in my life now, in the summer, while life is moving at a slower pace. With luck, the habit will remain during life’s busier times.

I believe that writing is now part of my life, not an addition to my life.

I believe the pen just needs to keep moving and the pages need to keep turning.

Christie Wyman is a Kindergarten teacher and Grade Leader in Massachusetts, as well as a Lead Ambassador for When not nurturing her young writer/naturalists, she enjoys exploring vernal pools, marveling at the birds at her feeders, and hiking with her husband wherever mountains meet the sea. You can connect with Christie on Twitter @WymansWonders or on her blog, Wondering and Wandering, where she posts twice-weekly for both the Slice of Life and Poetry Friday communities. 

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