Men and women often ask how I started writing and what keeps me going. The answer is not very satisfactory when I say I am a National Writing Project Fellow who started writing with my students in order to encourage them to write, solicit feedback, revise, edit, polish and publish. I understand. Prior to that writing project summer, I didn’t think I was a writer. I’m a reader! However, once I saw my poems in print as part of the writing project publication, I realized my reading was teaching me how to write.
Returning to the classroom, using NWP strategies, I included my drafts in the writing read-around-circle to which participants submitted work with a code, but no names. Sometimes my writing was trashed. Often enough, it was praised. At the end of a short story writing unit, students were required to submit their polished version to an on-line site for teen writing. Then, they asked me where I was going to submit mine. Yikes!
It just happens the California Association of Teachers of English offers a writing contest with a category for teachers. I submitted there. That year, my story was accepted. Other attempts to be published were not so successful.
When I retired and moved to Michigan, I decided to share what I had learned as a classroom teacher; this time in the role of a writing coach. I began a community outreach, GETTING STARTED? GETTING GOING!, inviting aspiring writers to join me in a conference room at our neighborhood library. I advertised on Facebook and Twitter. The week of a recent WOMEN WHO WRITE SHOWCASE, I was invited to promote the event on the local Fox News Morning Mix television show.
We attracted a range of new writers. One man came with the complete draft of a novel rubber-banded in a gift box. Another had a manuscript draft of on her tablet; one had outlined her idea for memoir, and a recently retired nurse still had her ideas in her head. All came eager to listen and learn.
In the workshop, I had an opportunity to introduce these community members to the writing process, then to look specifically at audience and purpose. I incorporated times for them to turn and talk about their own writing goals. We briefly explored different reasons for writing, consideration of our audiences, and various kinds of writing to achieve those defined goals with those specific audiences. I touched on marketing and value of social media to expand our platform of customers beyond that of family and friends.
By the end of our time together, the participants had vocalized their plans and goals and written a purpose statement to help focus their writing when they left. Before closing, I invited participants to join an on-line writing group using Google applications and face-to-face meetings at the library, or virtual meetings through Google Hangouts. The writers left ready to get started and get going!
Anna J. Small Roseboro, author and poet, is a veteran educator with experience teaching English and Speech in five states to students in middle school through college. Now retired, Anna remains active as a mentor in professional organizations and with youth at her church, and a writing coach in the community. Find her on Twitter @ajr1206 ; online at websites TeachingEnglishLanguageArts and Getting Started?Getting Going! ; and on LinkedIn.