To open each day, one of the first things I like to do in the morning is turn up the blinds in my home and let natural light shine through. Similarly, when I walk into my classroom in the morning and find the dark curtains closed, I immediately open them for a burst of energy to kickstart the day.
Once I have this natural light streaming in and the energy flowing, there’s one little trick I do to intensify those positive vibes. Almost considered old school with our iPad screens projecting these days, I scribble a handwritten note on the board. It can be a quotation or word of the day, a run-down of the day’s agenda, or a simple “Good Morning.” As messy as my handwriting can be, it’s a surprisingly effective way to lift the spirits.
The act of writing something down – and then reading it – forces our minds to focus on those words and the feelings they create. Try this: write a happy little note or quotation and put it in a place that you’ll see often: on the refrigerator, on a post-it note stuck onto your bathroom mirror, on a scrap paper tucked inside your wallet or purse… Every time your eyes gaze upon that note, make a point to take a moment and really READ the words. Think about what they mean, why you wrote them, and how they make you feel. Take a moment to try this little trick and I bet your lingering winter days will feel a bit warmer. By the same token, tuck a handwritten encouraging word into the belongings of someone you love to discover later in the day and, voilà, you’ve just made his or her day a little brighter.
That’s the power of writing . . .
Here’s something on one of my blackboards at home right now . . .
Writing feels good. Writing provides a sense of accomplishment. Writing provides release. Writing is therapy. My very first piece of writing that I can remember is a story titled “My Mom Had a Turkey.” I was four years old when I composed it, it was around Thanksgiving, and my mother was very pregnant. In the story, I open with a bubbly description of my stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, move to the anxious depiction of the drive back home to meet my new brother or sister, and end with an ironic twist – I come home to find my mom has a turkey. Interestingly, my story proved accurate: I happily stayed with my grandparents, I was anxious on the drive back home, and my mother did give birth to a turkey – my bro!
My mother still has this story of mine, complete with its elementary scrawl and doodles; while I’m sure it wasn’t the very first piece I wrote, it’s the first piece I recall writing. I remember it probably because of the positive, fun feedback I received from my parents. They laughed, they told their friends, and they saved it.
It’s always exciting when I meet people who reignite the inspiration. Just this past week, I had the privilege of meeting three published authors at my school’s annual Writer’s Day presentations. Half the fun of writing this very blog is knowing that I’m sharing with others; with that said, I’d like to share small snippets of wisdom I received from each of these accomplished individuals. If you have a story or argument or idea, etc. “screaming to be told,” you should share it. The great stories are those that a reader thinks, “That’s me!” or “This was written for me.” If readers can connect, it is a story worth telling.
Simone Elkeles: author of Leaving Paradise, Perfect Chemistry, and three other young adult novels:
Writers should write about what they know. Simone never liked analyzing literature as a high school student. She, therefore, writes from a teenager’s point of view at all times, including authentic, colloquial use of dialogue. Simone advises people to write a little bit every day, no matter how they are feeling. Mechanics, spelling, and order are not important initially. Writers can always go back and proof later.
Mary Fons: freelance writer, poet, performer:
Having a brain freeze? Write a letter to your grandmother. Telling the story or view with grandma as the audience member adds more authenticity to the piece. If Grandma is still alive to read the piece herself, all the better! GG looooves this idea. In fact, the printer is printing copies of my past posts as I type this. I’m sending them to Gram!
What else inspires you to write? Is it the perfect environment . . . soft music in the background, comfy chair, scented candle burning, gentle breeze blowing from the open window . . . ? Is it the memorable quotation or passage from your favorite book? Is it the endorphins earned from exercise? Is it love? Is it the lyric from a favorite song? Grading Girl has been inspired by all of these things and more. But sometimes, all it takes is a pen, paper (or computer) and a quiet moment. Whatever and whenever you write, know that you are pouring out a piece of you. It is never a waste of time. It is always worthwhile.
TTFN!! Grading Girl is off to read some of my students’ writing to see what is inspiring them.
And remember . . . write it down, write it down.