The last two months have been pretty abysmal for my personal writing. It always gets shoved to the bottom of my to-do list, and when I do finally sit down to write something, I find myself distracted and unfocused. I start post after post, and never seem to find a way to finish them. My thoughts and ideas swirl around and around, and I can’t seem to snag them and nail them down to the page, making them real instead of wisps of passing thoughts.
Daily tasks? These I can handle. The concreteness of baking a loaf of banana bread for our new neighbors or folding a pile of pajamas seems doable…almost comforting compared to the nebulousness of trying to document what is going on in my head. This takes time and space, and I have neither. Stolen moments between nap times and school pickups don’t really “cut the mustard”, as my Mom used to say.
So the days tick by, the moments slide through my fingertips, and I am stuck with a head full of half-conceived thoughts and memories. Instead, the floor gets vacuumed, my email is (sort of) answered, and the papers get graded. I suppose it’s not a bad trade…the mundane for the highbrow, the essential for the indulgent.
But I miss it horribly.
It is a release that is reminiscent of jumping on the treadmill after a long day, both cleansing and invigorating. Everyone needs that release, whether it comes in the form of creating or building or exploring, but it takes a bit of effort to get back on the wagon, one small step at a time. Perhaps not demanding long discourses to pour out of my fingertips, but simple moments with the kids. I can do that, right?
What is your release? Do you run? Write? Sew? Bake? Hike? What happens when it falls to the wayside? Do you start to crumble a bit inside like me? Find the courage to start again…one small imperfect step at a time.
Right before Halloween, I happened upon a tweet about a writing contest. It was sponsored by MeeGenius!, a reading app for kids. I recognized the app – we have it on our iPad and my iPhone – so I decided to click into it and check it out. They were looking for children’s e-book manuscripts where the winner would have their book published on the MeeGenius! platform. The kicker? Entry deadline was less than a week away! It sounded fun, but I didn’t have anything started, I had never tried to write anything for kids, and I figured that I would have slim to no chance, so I moved on.
But something about it stuck in my mind, because I had been thinking about ways to talk to Madi about the concept of “identity” for a while. We had been writing about identity over at MomColoredGlasses, and it is something that I have personally wrestled with over the years. But how do you teach a kid that it matters who you are, not what you do? I wasn’t sure, but as I thought more about it, a narrative started to take shape in my mind. Nothing fancy, just a little conversation between a mom and a daughter, attempting to capture the essence of what I wanted to tell Madi.
Over the next week, I scribbled phrases on scraps of paper and notes on my phone, pulled it together in time to submit it with about 15 minutes to spare, and then promptly forgot about it. But yesterday, I found out that my little 10 page manuscript made it to the first round of voting…along with 400 other stories. I’m sure that most of the entries “made it”, but it was still a thrill…and slightly terrifying that other people were actually going to read it other than Ben and my Mom.
So now, I have two weeks to try and rustle up enough votes to propel me into the “finals”. I’m not quite sure what that means, because it feels a little weird and uncomfortable, even though I feel good about what I wrote. But whether it goes any farther or not, I’m glad to put it on the “things I’ve done on a whim” list and glad that I sat down and put words to something that I want to make sure I communicate to my kids.
Do you have something you want to say to your kids..now or someday? I would challenge you to write it down. Think it through and sort out your own thoughts on it so that when the time comes, you are prepared. It’s powerful…
And oh yeah…you can check out my story here, and if you like it, feel free to vote for me!
When I was in college, I was convinced that I did the best work under pressure. Of course, once I was teaching those same college classes, I tried to convince my students that no…you do much better work if you start early…revise…and not rush it all right before it is due. However, while I believe this to be truth, I still think I work better…faster…harder…if I have a deadline. An assignment with a due date. Something that can be bumped up the priority list on the day before it is due.
I haven’t been writing very consistently here, and it has been frustrating me. I have plenty to write about – even have some partial drafts out there – but there is always something more “urgent” that bumps it off the list. So when an email popped into my bulging inbox about the National Blog Posting Month or NaBlogPoMo challenge to write every day in November, I decided to jump aboard. There’s a new writing prompt every day…there are a couple thousand other blogs that are participating too…and well, it gives me an assignment with a due date.
So here goes…my first little “writing prompt”: When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?
This is an interesting question, actually, because I think I write better when I scribble it first on the back of whatever paper I have handy…church bulletins, P.O. Box cancellation forms, sticky notes, newspaper margins. Then once I sit down at the computer, I have something to start with, even if it is a couple of sentences.
Case in point…we had a house showing yesterday, so my mom, the kids and I headed up to Barnes & Noble. Fiona, of course, fell asleep in the car after missing her nap (not because of the showing, but because of a poorly timed, gigantic poopy diaper), so I stayed in the car with her for a half an hour while she sawed logs. I rarely get to sit and do nothing, so after trying (unsuccessfully) to look up Firestone’s phone number on my almost defunct iPhone 3G, I pulled out the aforementioned P.O. Box cancellation form and scribbled out an outline for my video post on MomColoredGlasses and my next gifts post, which was supposed to be posted last Monday. It was chicken scratches, but enough to get me going when I sit down and write/record.
What I would LIKE to do is have a way to have a notebook with me at all times so I can jot things down, but I can’t quite pull off carrying around paper, pen, and all the paraphernalia that goes along with having three kids. Until then, I’ll have to settle for Meijer receipts and junk mail envelopes, unless anyone has a better idea? Please share!
Come back every day this month to read my little NaBloPoMo posts…and leave a comment or two!
Today’s post comes from Dan Gilbert of Primrose Schools, an early childhood education and child care services organization. They have schools across the country, and their mission is to “enable a growing number of individuals to achieve balanced success in learning and life by consistently delivering innovative, high-quality early education and child care services.” It’s a great mission, one that they incorporate into their Balanced Learning curriculum, so I was glad to pass along a few great reminders for encouraging writing skills in our kids. I especially liked his thought about encouraging kids to use electronic means of communication – something I forget about!
Encouraging a child to write long before any chance of perfection can be achieved is critical to a child’s writing development. From the earliest days children watch adults write everything from notes on the calendar to business letters. A child will often scribble as their first attempts at writing which is considered a form of emergent writing. Most often their first attempt at a writing letter is the first letter of their name, making it a success to celebrate and treasure.
“The first conscious attempts a child makes to write a letter are usually the first letter of his or her name. To an adult, the attempts may only vaguely resemble the letter, but these are moments to cherish and celebrate. What is the message they are trying to communicate?” asks Dr. Mary Zurn,( Dr. Z) vice president of education, Primrose Schools. “Children watch adults as they write notes, checks, and stories, and they are eager to begin writing themselves. Early writing is oftentimes labeled ‘scribble writing’ and is considered a legitimate form of emergent writing,” says Dr. Z.
In the early stages of writing development it is very important not to focus on perfect penmanship. Pushing correct letter formation can discourage children, sending the message that it is more important to write perfectly than to be able to communicate in writing. This may lead to the children feeling that writing is too hard. Reinforcing the idea that writing is not the same as penmanship is very helpful. Writing should be presented to children as a fun way to express themselves. Gently guidance in obtaining an efficient pencil grip and proper letter formation is necessary however.
Encourage the children to communicate through writing. Writing stories and messages are an important part of their development. Below are a few tips that are sure to encourage the development of a child’s writing skills.
- Keeping a good supply of paper and writing utensils available will create an environment conducive to creative writing. Allowing them free access to writing materials will encourage imaginative play such as school, office and house in which they will practice writing on their own. When an adult is writing children love to watch and often imitate what they see. Encourage the children to mimic the writing actions they see.
- Much of our written communication today is by electronic devices whether email, texting or typewritten letters. In light of this fact, typing on a computer should be encouraged. Not having to correctly form the letters may make it easier for them to communicate their thoughts.
- Read to the children. Make reading good children’s books part of the daily routine. As they see text placed with pictures in children’s books communicating their own ideas will become easier.
Back in January, I submitted an article proposal for Building Profits, a magazine that Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) puts out every two months. They were asking for articles related to Human Resources, and an idea started kicking around in my head about employee engagement during a recession. Thrilling stuff I know, but they always say write about what you know, and I had a few things to say about the topic.
To my surprise, they accepted my proposal, and three months later, the article came out in the March/April issue. It turned out pretty good, thanks in large part to the companies that I asked to be involved in the article. Everyone likes good real-life examples, right? And it gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling to see my name in print for the first time.
And for your reading pleasure? Here it is….Sustaining Employee Engagement. It will be especially exciting if you are a manager in the construction industry…
I spent all last week off the blogging radar, partially because I was sick as a dog and partially because I was finishing my submission to my first essay contest. My Mom came across it in her Real Simple magazine, ripped it out, and convinced me that I should enter.
I’m still not sure why I agreed, because the topic was to finish the sentence, “I never thought I’d…”. The point was to write about a surprising risk, and I had a tough time wrapping my mind around what “risk” meant for me. I can’t say that I have ever climbed a mountain (other than a mountain of laundry) or went on a television show (other than the studio audience of the Price is Right).
But the more I thought about it, I realized that risk isn’t always a monumental shift. It could be the slightest move of a hand toward someone or finally looking someone in the eye to speak your mind. Small changes, sometimes unseen, but with far reaching results…a hug, a renewed respect, a change.
Well, that’s what I wrote about. A change in perspective, a risk of my personal comfort, and the ripples it caused in myself and those around me. It is probably not a winning essay, because it is a bit too theoretical, too abstract, not as clear and compelling as many of the other essays will be. But I have decided that I am okay with that, because one of the main reasons I started writing is to help me process, and this experience helped me do that.
Thanks Mom…for encouraging me to reach outside of my comfort zone and do something new…maybe I should take more risks, eh?
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad