Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Day of School/Becoming a Writer

First Day of School 1910

Somebody's crying for their mom. Somebody forgot their lunch. Oops . . . somebody wet their knickers. Sorry about that: the first day of school is scary for teachers!

But, now that you're here I'm feeling a little better. Since we're all new, let's go over some class rules before we get started:
  1. We have open enrollment. Everybody's welcome whenever they can come; you don't need to have a blog.
  2. Homework and class involvement are optional. But, there will be participation points for anybody who comments about an assignment. If you do an assignment on your blog, please give proper attribution and link it back to TravelinOma as part of our class discussion.
  3. You'll grade your own work. (A for Accomplishment, B for Basic Effort, C for Class Comments, D for thinking the assignment is Dumb, and F for Failure to Communicate.)
  4. Anyone who completes a written assignment for this class every week will receive an Associate Degree. If you finish the other School Days class assignments, too, you'll get an OMA degree and prize. Keep track and I'll let you know when to report in. (We're on the honor system.)
  5. Honorary Degrees and prizes go to the two people who recruit the most new students. (Have them mention your name or blog.)
  6. You're welcome to put the School Days button on your blog, and for easy access, don't forget to subscribe to TravelinOma.
Orientation's over. Are you ready for class?

Becoming a Writer: 101



"Writing comes more easily if you have something to say."
Sholem Asch

I've always had plenty to say. In fact, I learned early that writing is a way of talking without being interrupted. But it took me a long time to call myself a writer. It didn't make sense: people who ski are skiers; people who paint are painters; but it seemed almost sacrilegious to deem myself a writer. What if the other writers were insulted that I thought myself worthy of their title?

You may have known early on that you were a writer, but I thought I wouldn't be a real writer until I had a best-seller. So all the time I was writing 4 or 5 hours a day, I still thought of myself as a wannabe. Then I sold some articles to Woman's Day, Family Circle, The Ensign and Good Housekeeping. Do you remember them? Well, that's the thing. Nobody does. Even though I got paid a hundred dollars here and there for writing, I still felt like an impostor. The page looked just as blank the next time, and I always doubted that I could fill it up again.

It's scary to open your soul, show your innermost self to others with the possibility that they won't like what they see. I've always heard the stories of actors who dream they go on stage and realize they're naked. (Dave Letterman says, "I love that dream.") I'd never had dreams like that until I started blogging. Now, I dream that I'm at the grocery store, or at church, and I suddenly perceive that I forgot to get dressed.

That's how I know I'm a writer. My heart is coming out through my fingertips. I don't need a paycheck, or a bestseller to prove it to myself. Maybe this is what a runner experiences when she starts training for a marathon, or a quilter when she gathers up a bundle of fat quarters. It's a surge of anticipation and trepidation—I love the sensation of writing enough to put in the time and toil to try to outdo myself.

Sue Grafton, the author of the alphabet mystery series, said, "Writing is self-taught. Most of us learn to write well by writing badly for a long, long time."

Blogging is a great way to get writing practice and build habits of showing up at the computer to work regularly. Some writers wait for a mystical muse to show up and stimulate creativity (we'll talk about that next week) but I've found that if I make writing a priority, I will actually get something written. Maybe.

Homework Assignment: Do any or all, or be inspired.

~ Think of a writing project you want to do. Name it. Write down the ten steps to begin. Write each step on a day or week in your planner (give yourself enough time to make it fun) and follow through. For instance:

My Semester Abroad
  1. Get a new notebook and file folders.
  2. Make a monthly time-line in my notebook or on the computer.
  3. Find the letters I sent home.
  4. Put letters in chronological order.
  5. Read letters and stick post-its on good parts.
  6. Call friends who were there and jot down their memories.
  7. Look through photos and pick the best ones.
  8. Write down how I decided to go (this is the beginning.)
  9. Write down how the experience changed me (this is the end.)
  10. Start writing up the stories I've chosen (this is the middle.)
~ Write a page about you. Introduce yourself. Prompt: If you were a character in your own book, what would your name be? Describe your inner self and your outer self. Prompt: "He saw her sneak into the classroom. She was ____, but he could tell she was____. . ."

~Every memoir has a catchy title. What would the title of your memoir be? Use the title to write the opening paragraph. Would anyone guess the book was about you?

~Make a list of writing projects you'd like to do someday.

~Write a blog post about why you have a blog.

Now, write away!

"Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go."
—Natalie Goldberg

59 comments:

Christie said...

Oooh, very good ideas! I love this. Think I'll grab a journal and give it a go when the kids are gone today.

dalene said...

Done. Here's the link.

Thanks!

marta said...

oma, you deserve a shiny apple today. this post did not disappoint! thanks for all the good ideas. and i couldn't agree more, writing is a scary endeavor but with great rewards.. it seems that everyone can connect with good writing. i love reading words and saying to myself, 'i agree, bravo, that's exactly how I feel.' writing does more than just communicate it shows who you are.

SaraLynn said...

What a great idea! I am not sure I will provide the quality you were hoping for in a student, but I will have fun attempting to do so!
Here is my link

Tiffany said...

Is it alright to shout "AMEN!" in the middle of your classes? Thanks for summing up how it feels to be a writer. (I finally introduce myself as a copywriter; still too scared to say "writer" all on its own.)

I'm loving school. Thanks, teach! I'll be posting soon!

crissy said...

I can't decide which assignment to do! They're all so good, and I'm feeling indecisive. Even if I did all of them I'm not sure yet where I'd start. Thanks for the wonderful ideas!
Also, what is the code for your school days button? When I hit the link on your sidebar to add it all it does is log me out of blogger. :P

Alana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alana said...

I'm having fun already!
Here is my link.

Sandra Ferguson said...

Thanks for sharing the great ideas. I love the kids back in school routine. I get way more writing accomplished with a quiet house -- the dust bunnies can wait.

Kiasa said...

I was only going to commit to Thurs & Fri, but this is too fun and I actually have a free moment today. So, I thought I'd dip my toes in. Does this link work?

http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AVovcOF2R1VOZGd3cHRxZHZfMTM2ZnNoOG5rZnM&hl=en

Kiasa said...

Okay, so I got the guts to put it on my blog. How to you get it to link?

whoknewidgothisfar.blogspot.com

Rebekah Writes said...

This was a great first assignment. Great to opening up the creative channels. Thanks
here in my link.
http://rebekahwritestoday.blogspot.com/2009/08/writing-assignmentl.html

Michele M said...

Day 1 - completed. Here is my link.

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

Great assignment. I gave it a try: Here's the link. :)

{jordan} said...

Talk about getting me thinking!

link

Hope this works!

{jordan} said...

k- I don't think it's working so here's the cut and paste version:

http://meanmommyacademy.blogspot.com/2009/08/mild-case-of-alzheimers.html

Amanda said...

so excited!!!!

http://edgeonlife.blogspot.com/2009/08/first-assignment-creative-writing.html

Michelle said...

Ah, this is a story I've been wanting to tell. Thanks for making it an assignment.


The Jacaranda Season

Michelle said...

hmm, how do people make those clever links?


The Jacaranda Season

http://scenesfromthewild.blogspot.com/2009/08/jacaranda-season.html

diane said...

This is so helpful. I need to write some memories of my brother for his young sons. He passed away unexpectedly 18 months ago. I want these boys to know who their dad was.

Do you need me to clap erasers for you?

middleofthetable said...

here goes nothing....

http://middleofthetable.wordpress.com/

Beck said...

My attempt is located here.

b. said...

Dear Teacher,
My assignment is still in my head. I most likely will play catch up later...after my child is caught up on her homework.

I have loved reading today's assignment by my fellow students...thank you for providing us the opportunity!

sincerely,
b.

Jennifer said...

Hmmm - this was hard to do. If I'm scared to post it, does that mean I opened up enough? :) Here's what I wrote.

Jessica said...

Mmm.. I have many letters to sort through. As well as many blog posts on why I blog. Distilling them down will be satisfying.

ELLOUISESTORY said...

You set up a wonderful challenge. Enjoying reading all the comments. Even tried a memoir opening. More to be revealed - and I am looking forward to it.

http://ellouisestory.blogspot.com/2009/08/three-beautiful-blogs-for-monday.html

audrey said...

I think I'll only tackle two of these today but I'll save the others for a rainy day. I am not sure if I am ready to share, but maybe after some more tweaking I will post a link.

This is wonderful. Thank you.

Soul-Fusion said...

Just as in school, inspiration followed much procrastination. Thanks for the prompt, I'm looking forward to more, I've posted tonight's homework on my blog.

La Yen said...

OK. Not the greatest, but the done-est. Here's the link

crissy said...

Finally got a minute to sit down and write.
link

Allison said...

It's a little late, but done. I wrote about some of the writing projects that have been buzzing around in my journal, and this lil' post on my blog just now:

http://lifeunqualified.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/became-a-pro-at-making-lemonade/

(also not sure how to make an active link...)

Queen Scarlett said...

I am so excited...Whoo hoo! this is fun...even if I flop.

And... I can't remember how to add the link so it is clickable.

http://aloneontop.blogspot.com/2009/08/blog-homework-1.html

smeagher said...

This was a great first assingment! I really enjoyed it. Thank you-

http://thissweetlifeofmine.blogspot.com/

Mrs. Organic said...

Done (and here by way of ~j), Here's my link.

hannah said...

http://sherbetblossom.blogspot.com/2009/08/writing.html

There is my first assignment. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration.

Yiota said...

Done!
I don't know how to make a link yet so just click on the icon.

Looking forward to today's assignment.

Kiasa said...

So, I couldn't sleep, so I wrote one of my items on "my list of things to write someday". I've posted it on the blog. Not a specific assignment, but I think it counts. :) Thanks for the inspiration Oma!

janabananagirl said...

Definite food for thought. See what I did here.

~j. said...

Finally got that done. Yikes, it needs editing. Yikes.

Heffalump said...

Here's mine!.

Kristen said...

by the way, do you accept late assignments? I'm still thinking . . . :)

sue-donym said...

Here goes...
http://suedonym1.blogspot.com/2009/09/left-of-center.html

Miranda said...

Last night I wrote a list of topics that I want to write about in the near future. I have them down on my calendar right now. I'll send you the links for the ones that I post on my blog. Thanks helping me get started!

Marissa Marie said...

Here's the link to my assignment.

http://happyhyperbole.blogspot.com/2009/09/first-day-of-school.html

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
audrey said...

Okay. I think I'm ready to share now. Here's the link to copy and paste:

http://josephandaudrey.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-i-have-blog.html

My Assignment said...

I hope I linked this right...

Meg said...

Nope, I didn't...
Here it is:
http://so-ingbuttons.blogspot.com/2009/09/soi-write.html

KJ said...

is it too late to sign up?

Greek Goddess said...

Here is my story! http://californiamuse.blogspot.com/2009/09/introducingmyself.html

LuluBunny said...

It's late, and slightly lazy of me, but it's done.

LIST OF THINGS I WANT TO WRITE

LMT said...

This is absolutely fantastic! I am so grateful for this way of participating in something that I will highly enjoy and will benefit from immensely. Thank you. I am posting each day on my blog and it is only the title so my readers must visit your site to get the class/assignment. Thank you for sharing your experience and learning. I think you are wonderful.

LMT said...

ps. You'll find my posts linking to your blog here: birdouse.blogspot.com

Miranda said...

Here are the links to the first story on my "list of things to write" as promised...
http://mirandawalker.blogspot.com/2009/08/weepies-part-1.html

http://mirandawalker.blogspot.com/2009/09/weepies-part-2.html

Mickelmonkey Mama said...

First assignment done!
Check it out here!

Monica said...

I finally did it! I did the first assignment! And thank you for doing this because it's gotten me to write in a way that I have wanted to for a while now but didn't have the guts to do.

I don't know how to link to the specific post, but it's the very first one. Once I get into a better groove, I'll be better about specifying which assignment I'm doing.

Thanks Oma!

Katie H said...

I'm super-duper late in joining this club, but I am so happy to have found you, TravelinOma...since I miss writing, teaching & the like. I found you through the lovely & talented Marta!

Here's the cut & paste link to my first homework assignment: http://jarednkatie.blogspot.com/2009/10/blogger-other-tidbits.html.

I'll be working feverishly to do the others. :) (And working to figure out how to link, exactly.)

debby said...

i am so very tardy for class, and not even sure if you are still looking at comments from such old posts, but i did do this assignment on my blog:

why i have a blog

looking forward to doing more assignments.

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