Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Write On Wednesday-Everybody Write

The other morning, as I was sitting with notebook blithely writing away at my morning pages, I had a funny little frisson of thought~you know, those strange notions that seem to pop into your head occasionlly, like a waking dream. For just a second, I had the feeling that everyone in my neighborhood, everyone in the world, actually, was writing too. With a quick mental shake of the head, I came to my senses. How ridiculous is that? But then, a wave of sadness came over me, sadness for everyone I know that doesn't write, because they are missing so much.

Using words to express our needs, our thoughts, our emotions, is basic to life, and something every child is taught from the earliest of ages. Unlike playing a musical instrument, or painting, or dancing, learning command of our languge through speech and the written word is deemed one of life's most necessary skills. Isn't it exciting to watch children master the use of words, to figure out that the use of words makes things happen? Who hasn't cherished a child's scribbled notes and poems, written with such excitement and freedom, their first forays into the world of written expression?

Back in 1938, when she wrote If You Want To Write, author Brenda Ueland insisted that "everybody is talented, everybody who is human has something to express." We let that creative engergy, that drive to express oursleves get "drummed out of our lives by dry obligation, and because we don't respect it in ourselves and keep it alive by using it." Fast forward 60 years, and Julia Cameron publishes Right to Write, in which she advises us to "write because it's human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It brings clarity and passion to the art of living. It is good for the soul. It connects us to our insights, and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance." I don't believe writing is just for the "chosen few," but that everyone comes hard wired with this need to express themselves with the written word. The proliferation of blogging as a means of personal expression is testimony to that.

In the high school where I work, we have a period of time each day known as "Silent Reading." It happens about 10:30 a.m., right after morning announcements. Just after we've heard results of the volleyball game, meeting time for National Honor Society, and been reminded to wear red and black for spirit day, the announcer says, "Now it's time for Silent Reading." The entire student body -all 2100 of them- including teachers, stops class and reads for 20 minutes.

I love being there when that happens. I love the idea of everybody stopping in their tracks just to read, to enter into someone else's world for a while. Wouldn't it be fabulous if the whole world took time every day to do that? And, wouldn't it be even more fabulous if the the world took 20 minutes every day to write, to enter into our own worlds a little deeper, express our vision of life and ourselves on the page. Wouldn't we all become more mindful of the beauty that surrounds us, the people that intersect with our lives, and more keely attuned to our own thoughts and dreams? Those are just some of the ways my writing experience has enriched my life.

So, how about you? Do you make time to write everyday? Don't you think everybody should?



Blogger Linda said...

I love your idea of everyone writing at the same time. Wouldn't that be wonderful? I also like the Silent Reading time at your school. Since I carry a book with me at all times, I could get into that. And I think worktime could be even more productive if everyone could take a reading/writing break at least once a day.

I notice that you enjoy Brenda Ueland's work. She has another great book called "Strength to Your Sword Arm." It's a collection of essays that she wrote, and some of them lift my spirits every time I think of them--especially the one about her remodeling her house and the self-talk that goes with it. So many of us listen and give voice to the inner critic; her inner voice was usually complimenting her on being so clever!

I enjoy your Write On Wednesday entries!

Blogger deirdre said...

I don't write every day, yet, but am beginning to look for the places I can carve out 15 minutes to indulge. Words are so important, finding just the way to express our deepest thoughts and feelings gives us a kind of power. And so many people are afraid of trying. They're sure, positive, they could never write anything. So sad.

Blogger Star said...

This really speaks to my soul today. I have been directing my energy to other things in my free moments lately and, just when I thought work was easing back to normal, a coworker is on vacation this week and it's messing with my blogging life! ;-) I miss the writing I usually do in my journal, I miss the blogging I had made a brief return to, and I miss that form of self-expression.

I love that the school has a reading break; it's almost like nap time for kindergarteners--time to refresh your mind and "ground" your thoughts before returning to your school day.

Thank you for another wonderful WOW.

Blogger Ally Bean said...

I write just about every day because I'm always working on a blog post or composing an email to a friend. I love words, always have, so I find it quite natural to write.

I find it delightfully ironic that my major in college, English, has turned out to not be as impractical as everyone told me it would be. Seems rather useful in today's digital, connected world. We don't relate to one another with numbers or business models, now do we?!!

And as for everyone writing every day I doubt that most people would do it if offered the opportunity because writing forces a person to be clear and honest about what they think and feel. Most people I know don't want that kind of personal responsibility.

Blogger Kimberley McGill said...

I am getting slippery on writing everyday - and I feel a little lost. My last post feels scrambled. I need to get back in the writing groove.

I used to be a tutor at a writing center when I was getting my degree. So many of the kids came in with "I can't write" - it was a pleasure to encourage them and watch them find their voice. One student in particular had spelling and grammar deficits but could weave a story like a pro. He had been so beaten down about writing it was hard for him to see his own talent. Once he "believed" he felt more motivated to practice grammar and spelling skills.

Blogger jzr said...

I write most days in my journal and would love to write everyday on my blog, but there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. Once I start, it's hard to stop so just putting aside 15 or 20 minutes isn't very practical for me. I get too frustrated. So I usually carve out at least an hour to chronicle my ideas, dreams and any wild thoughts in the journal. Someday I want to go back through them all and see what changes have occurred both in my writing but mostly in my being!!

Blogger Becca said...

Linda: Thanks for the recommendation on Ueland's book. I hadn't heard of it before, and I'll look for it!

Deirdre: I agree, it's sad that most people are afraid to try writing -even personal writing. I'm always happy when you find time to write and share with us :)

Star: Isn't it amazing how much you miss writing when you don't have time to do it? I've been going through that lately too. And to think, until last year, I wasn't writing anything at all -except "to do" lists!

Ally Bean: For me, one of the major benefits of writing is the way I learn such surprising things about my own thoughts and feelings...things that come to the surface when I write. And I suspect you're correct when you say that many people would have a difficult time with that. So sad for them...

Kimberly: Your work as a tutor sounds really fulfilling. How exciting to be able to nurture the love of reading and writing in young people. I hope you find your way back into your own writing groove soon :)

Anonymous susanlavonne said...

Here! Here! Cheers for such an eloquently written proposal.

Unfortunately, teachers claim to teach children to write but too many times I have seen teachers use writing as punishment-- assigning essays and repetitive words or sentences in an effort toward redemption. The message that this sends to children is criminal.

p.s. I'll bring you a legal (not criminal) copy of the CD.

Blogger Tori said...

I think that if "free writing" was incorporated into school days from a young age on children would start to develop a love (or atleast appreciation) for writing for the sake of writing.
It's ironic that I have heard people say that since that advent of the internet and email people have lost touch with one other. I however, feel that my human connections have manifested due to this technology. Some of us are more free to be who we are when we are expressing in the written word.
Great post Becca!

Blogger Becca said...

Joan: I know what you mean about having difficulty starting once you stop writing...15 minutes always turns into 30 (at least!)

Susan: I get simply livid when teachers assign writing as punishment -especially when English teachers do it!

Tori: I totally agree with your statement that the internet and email have expanded out ability to connect with people. Aren't we all proof of we are from four corners of the country, having a dialogue with each other!
And yes, I too express myself better and easier in writing.

Blogger Tammy said...

Thank goodness for technology that brings the right to write to those who can no longer hold a pen. Writing on my blog lets me write, express and connect to society. Amen!


P.S. I did my award post XXOO

Anonymous bella said...

I've been writing daily while reading Finding Water by J.C. I've also read the Right to Write. I'd love to read that other book though.. forgot the name.. from the '30's.
I find that writing brings me clarity and direction. Sometimes, it's gibberish, sometimes it's really good. No matter what, it's still writing, and I think everyone could benefit from it.

Blogger Bug said...

i also love the idea of a silent reading time every day. I wish we could universalize it so we could all read together for 5 minutes.

I do write just about every day (as you know). I'm finding the more I do it, the more I can't imagine not doing it.

BTW, is Write on Wed something you made up? I like it!

Blogger Marcia said...

I honestly don't write every day, but make up for it on the other days.

I love the idea of silent reading in school and your idea for a free writing session. It is a shame every school, including elementary, though making allowances there, does not do it.

I truly think it would make a difference in society.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember silent reading! We did that too, and oh, it felt so luxurious! Alas, I don't write everyday (although I am working on it) but I'm really working on carving a little time to "check in" with my manuscript everyday. I do write morning pages everyday--thank goodness Madam is used to playing by herself for the first half hour or so of the day.

I didn't know you did these...what a great idea! I'll definitely have to be back more often.

Anonymous Robin (Capitulation) said...

Hi Becca,
I've been seriously considering writing every day. I think I need a little more structured practice. I once took a Zen writing workshop where we did four 20 minute writings. First the dharma teacher spoke, then we meditated, got the prompt, and off we went writing. It was amazing to see how uptight my writing was the first time, but by the fourth one, I was open and flowing. Wonderful experience!

My daughters (one starting to high school next year) have a time at their school every day, called DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) where they read for 20 minutes. I wonder if that's part of the State's cirriculum, or just individual districts?

Anyway, sorry for the long comment! I've added a link to you in my blogroll and look forward to reading more of your blog.

Blogger Becca said...

Tammy: I'm so glad you're able to express yourself with tecnology, too, because it brings so much joy to my life:)

Bella: Yeah, sometimes it is gibberish, but it's good to get that off your heart and on the paper-brings clarity, I think!

Bug: Yes, to universal silent reading (writing) time. I only wish...

Mardou: You will gain more and more time as Madam grows older...try to be patient. Before you know it, she will be traveling all over the world like my son is, and you'll have oodles of time :)

Robin: The Zen writing workshop sounds amazing! Do you know of any writer's conferences/workshops here in Michigan?

Blogger paris parfait said...

I do write every single day. But before I started writing the blog I had to kick myself to the curb to get started; I was a terrible procrastinator. Thankfully, those days are over. And if I don't write everyday, I feel anxious! Lovely post, Becca.

Anonymous Robin (Capitulation) said...

The Zen writing workshop was at a Buddhist temple in Detroit, near Wayne State (it's been a few years ago, at least). Also, I used to be involved with a writing group in Ann Arbor, facilitated by Keith Hood, editor of Orchid Literary Review, who is also involved with Critical Connection Workshops. Keith usually runs a writer's conference during the first week or two of June, if I'm not mistaken. There may be some info at one of those links. I quit the group a few years ago, when I had back surgery. Driving over an hour was too difficult, but I learned a lot and enjoyed my time there.


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