Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Don't Know What to Write

Slice of Life Challenge
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"I don't know what to write." Those seem to be the only words floating in my head right now. No matter how hard I try, all I can think is, "I don't know what to write." 

It strikes me as an important struggle that I need to remember. Posting my slice on the Two Writing Teachers is a blogging highlight of my week, so I rarely miss it. Tuesday is my deadline. Sometimes I write the post before Tuesday morning, but often I wake up and write it right away. 

Today...nothing. I feel angry and frustrated, helpless and stupid. I want to force something and nothing is coming. ARRGGHH!

Why am I staying here in this place and writing about it? Because of my students. I can't tell you how many times I hear these same words from my students. And it makes me wonder...do I give them enough time & space to create? Do I really listen to what they're saying? Do I treat them like they are trying to get out of doing work? There have been moments when I have been guilty of being impatient and insisting they begin writing. Sigh...that certainly wouldn't help me right now. 

I'm writing. That's good. I'm working something out, but I'm not writing about what I should be writing. That feels wrong. It feels bad...like I'm failing. In the logical part of my brain, I know that writing, any kind of writing, is better than not writing. Is this how my students feel when they struggle with a writing assignment? How can I help them? I need to find a better way to handle this with my students. 

What do I need? 
More encouraging. More space. Forgiveness...or maybe acceptance. More time. And the courage or guidance to return to my writing. These are the things I need to give to my students and share with them and model for them. Writing is hard, but I won't quit...and neither should they. 

THIS moment will make me a better teacher of writers. This is why we, as teachers, need to live the life of a writer and a reader when we are crafting writers and readers in our classrooms. I understand better. I get it. I can tell them the story of this morning when I had nothing to write and I wrote anyway...not the thing I wanted to write, but I wrote. I leave you with the wise words of Ray Bradbury...


  1. This is an important lesson to remember when working with struggling writers. I have many of these moments too and I haven't always been brave and written about them like you have done here. Thank you for putting it out there so that other teachers of writing, like me, can use your struggle to reflect as well.

  2. Writing about not wanting to write or not having anything to write about is a genre of writing in my classroom! I was in your same shoes at the Choice Literacy writing retreat this month, and I wrote an article very similar to your post. Important to remember how our students feel!!

  3. Sometimes you just need to step back & take a break. Painters, writers, knitters, gardeners, chefs... all creative people occasionally need a break from their craft. Take a moment to refresh & re-energize in a different way - walk the dog, paint a picture, do some yoga, enjoy the beauty of the day & return refreshed & ready to write :)

  4. "THIS moment will make me a better teacher of writers." ...Says so much!
    You pushed through it and wrote something helpful for all to remember!

  5. Who among us has not felt this way at one time or another? What do I write about today? Is it good enough enough to share? What will others think of me if they read this? The important thing is to write. Some pieces will be better than others, but everything we write is a part (important) of us.

  6. This is such an important post Michelle and you are a better teacher of writing because of it. I love how Mary Lee has a genre in her classroom of "not having anything to say." That validates it for us! Maybe this is a post you will share with that writer who is struggling as a mentor for that genre? Perhaps I will too! Ha!

    All greats have their not so great days. Thank you for getting the words on "the page" when it wasn't easy, when you questioned yourself.

  7. Michelle, as I was reading your post this morning (I just can't seem to figure out how to comment on my phone), I was thinking to myself that I need to put your blog post into my memory, and possible write a post myself next time that I feel stuck. You are so right that students need to know about these moments when we are stuck. Sharing those experiences as both readers and writers. Thank you, Michelle!

  8. Writing is a struggle sometimes. Sometimes there are so many topics and ideas, you don't know which one to choose. Other times…nothing. But see, you wrote anyway! I think that's the lesson for all of us. Way to stay the course!

  9. This will be a marvelous lesson to share, Michelle. I love that you went ahead & put the words down, shared your feelings, then applied them to your teaching. Couldn't be better!

  10. I hope you will share this post with your students when you return to school. I couldn't agree with you more. When writing teachers write, they are better teachers of writing. I'm glad you wrote through your struggle. This is a good lesson for all of us.

  11. Well, as Linda said, this will be a powerful lesson to share with your students. And this is the great benefit of living a writer's life - we teach from what we practice...and our kids can tell.

  12. Your post is filled with words and wisdom. I like how you move from the empty screen to your feelings to the bigger picture and lessons. As I have understood the blank-page no-idea moments visit all writers. The key is not to give up and let words come.


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