Write. Share. Give. Join the March Slice of Life Story Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers

On Mondays and Thursdays from 1:45 until 2:45, I have a group of four (4!) very smart girls who come to me for advanced writing. We trust each other. We respect each other. We spend a great deal of our time in companionable silence. These two hours a week are among my favorite times. 

There is a routine to our time. They walk out to my portable buzzing with chatter about their lives. Filling me in on the time I wasn’t with them. As we enter the portable, they each grab an iPad and settle in at a table to listen. Everyone gets a chance to talk about what piece is being worked on or what craft move they are hoping to try. I usually interject a brief lesson involving a craft move or mentor text based on what they have told me. This means I must listen carefully to what they need. This also means that I must have a toolbox at the ready filled with the right book or lesson for what they need.

This month they have been crafting slices of their lives. By the end of the month, they must have looked at what they’ve written and weave them together into a new product. They have options. They can create found poems from their slices. They can lift lines. They can illustrate. I have been introducing different ways for them to create one cohesive piece from the many slices. It is hard work. It is creative work. For them, it is very quiet work. I tend to talk to think, but with these four I have learned that the more I let them be the better their work gets. Their work and thinking needs time to marinate, germinate, and marry.

Near the end of our time, one or two will ask for parts of their work to be workshopped. They understand the term. They aren’t expecting anyone to fix their work. They sit silently after handing us each a copy of what they need us to work on. We read it and mark it and then we tell that girl what we think–the good, the bad, and the ugly. She is not allowed to respond. She can take notes but she must just absorb what we have to say. We say it kindly, but we don’t hide what we think. 

I am working on self-esteem with these writers as well. We talk about how self-esteem is not about being told you are great, it’s about being willing to hear the growth possibilities and making the choice that you need. You are in charge of your self-esteem. We talk about this a lot because writing is so personal, it’s hard sometimes to separate who you are from how you are writing.