I went through a period of time when I didn’t want to write. For more than five years, I’d established and maintained a daily writing habit. Then I found myself happy to do chores and content to stare at the television. What happened? Did I suddenly lose my energy for writing? Maybe I just couldn’t make the words work anymore.
Although I know this wasn’t true, the doubts still had a tendency to creep in. Did it matter? What if I simply stop writing? As I was contemplating this option, I’ve realized why writing matters to me more than ever.
- Writing allows me to grow my thinking and my teaching. When I write, I discover new ideas. I make connections. I figure out what I need to do next. When I write about what’s happening in classrooms, with colleagues, or my current reading, something significant happens. I take a step back from the inside and up close of the matter and see things from a new perspective. This is how learning and growth happen. I stunt myself when I’m not writing.
- Writing gives me a chance to see the importance of my work. Sometimes the daily grind can convince me that I’m not important and the things I’m doing aren’t important. When I have a written record, I’m able to combat these negative thoughts. I’m able to look back and see the truth: teaching matters. I matter. When I begin doubting myself, it’s an indication that I need to put more words on the page. Are you beginning to doubt whether you matter? Whether you make a difference? Try writing and see the truth: you matter.
- Writing energizes me for the next day. My favorite time to write is in the morning while the world sleeps and I clack words on the screen. There is something powerful about writing to start the day, placing the importance on collecting words rather than rushing to get out of the door. Yet, often I write my blog posts at night. These collections of words help me to focus on students. Even when I don’t want to write, the actual act of writing always recharges me. I’m not sure I’ll ever know why — I suppose I’ll just have to accept it as the magic of writing.
- Writing makes me SEE more accurately, shedding the impossible and believing in the work. Sometimes, in the midst of a school day or week or month or year, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The need is so great. If I only rely on my thoughts, instead of my writing, the reality of my work can get twisted. I can begin to believe that my goals are impossible. However, when I put words on the page, the black and white boldness makes me see the possibility. Putting words on the page always gives me the ability to believe and sustains me to keep going.
- Writing allows me to take hold of small moments. Often in writing, the tiny details are the most significant. The same is true in our classrooms. The small moments matter considerably. When I force myself to write, I’m often overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all and I’m intimidated by the blank page. At times like these, I think tiny and I collect the moments that have left an impact. These moments turn out to be the sustenance I need to teach and lead well. Unfortunately, I often miss the moments because I’m so busy scurrying from one thing to the next. Writing makes me slow down and find what's meaningful.
I’m not whole when I’m not writing. The doubts take over and become my reality. When this happens, I start missing the beauty of kids and the significance of teaching. Writing grounds me and makes me real.