Sunday, June 25, 2017

JOIN: Celebrating Embracing the Suck

Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.

Earlier this week, thanks to a friend, I discovered Gail Crust's blog. It's new! She's a new blogger and I was excited to read her first post. I remember when I first started blogging. A friend had suggested I try blogging and I had no idea what I was doing but I set up my blog and I started. That was in 2008. Since then, I've written tons of blog posts and connected with so many amazing people online and in real life. 

I especially love how Gail talks about being a writing teacher instead of a writing teacher...and she means a teacher who writes with kids instead of a teacher who teaches writing without also doing it herself. If only every student could have a teacher who writes. It makes a huge difference. In my comment to her I explained why i believe this is so important.

"My family and I went to an amusement park near us today and I saw a guy with a shirt that said, 'Embrace the Suck'. I have absolutely no idea what the shirt was referring to* but I was really close to asking him if I could take his picture because sometimes I really do feel like writing means embracing the suck. It's also embracing the creative life that comes with being a writer and the awesome...but there's a lot about writing that feels like "the suck". The thing is, if we (as teachers) are in the arena with them, it's more like being writers together rather than, like you said, being a writing teacher who doesn't write. I'll never forget when I started writer's notebooks with my students and I realized I was going to have to write in my own to model for them and write along with felt like pressure but it was a good pressure because just having a notebook with them helped me start to think like a writer. I started noticing things so I could put them in my notebook and I still love my notebook. I love that I get to read your very first post and I'm excited to see where this writing journey takes you."

I looked it up and it seems that "embrace the suck" is a military term. You can read more about it in this NPR article here if you'd like.

My idea behind Story Exploratory was that it would be a place to share in the suck together...and to share in the fun and excitement of writing too. BrenĂ© Brown talks about being in the arena in Rising Strong and how your trust is different when someone is in the arena with you. 

I'm here. Living the writing life as best I can. Celebrating all that comes with it, the fun times and the suck. I'm glad you're here too!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

READ: How To Reboot Yourself

I find power in others telling their stories and 
I hope you do too!
Check out It's Monday! What Are You Reading? at Book Date
For the kidlit version, visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

It's summer and for me, that means time off with my family and the headspace to focus on my writing and to reassess my life in general...which means I've been reflecting on all the plans I had for this blog and what I hoped it would be. I haven't kept up with posts as much as I'd like to but I do love having this space to talk about writing in general so I'm starting with this post and hoping to get back into the swing of at least posting once a week here. 

The post How To Reboot Yourself from Mike Vardy at Lifehack reminded me of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and her podcast Happier. In the book and on her podcast, Gretchen talks about how when you have some kind of life change, it gives you an opportunity to start fresh. It can be something huge like starting habits after you move or when you start a new job. For me the summer is like a clean slate. It's a clear breaking point when I can start up new habits. This year I really wanted to focus on yoga so I got an unlimited membership at my favorite local yoga studio. I've been going at least 4 times a week so far and am hoping to keep it up for the rest of the summer. I also wanted to zone in on writing revisions of my YA novel and to get that done before the end of June. I'm making good progress but I know I need to step up my game a bit. And then there's blogging. I also want to zone in on my blogs and making sure to keep up with them because they are a wonderful opportunity for instant publication and it helps me to have a place to get my thoughts out of my head.

Maybe you don't have the summer off like me but even starting a new week on Monday can be a sort of restart. Don't feel that you have to have summer off or move to a new city. If you feel like you might need a reboot, read Mike's post and try one of the idea he suggests. When it comes to writing, even a new notebook could be a great restart or finding a new place to write and making a commitment to write every Tuesday...just do it once and then do it again and over time it becomes a habit. But also, I know there are times when I've needed a break from my writing and maybe that would be helpful too. Take a break and plan to start up again with a fresh outlook. 

Have you ever tried a reboot for your writing or something else?
Can you recognize a time in your life when you experience a reboot 
and maybe you weren't even trying?
How did it feel? How did it impact your mindset?
I'd love to hear your stories!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

JOIN: Celebrating Yoga and Just Doing It

Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.

A little over two years ago, I ran an 8k without enough training and my plantar fasciitis was in full effect. It's taken me a really long time to get over it and still have some heel pain if I try to run even for a few minutes. I'm slowly adding one minute at a time to my running but until I can (hopefully) run again, I'm putting lots of energy into yoga and walking. So today I'm celebrating a week with lots of yoga! 

I signed up for unlimited yoga for the month at my favorite local studio and went everyday this week except for yesterday. My body already feels stronger overall. I got to use the new wall ropes they recently installed, focus on my breathing, and work on my chaturanga. 

At the end of my first class where we used the walls ropes the entire time, the teacher asked if we were all okay with going upside down. We were all pretty skeptical but at the same time, we all said yes. I wasn't sure how this was going to all. But he asked another person in class to show how to do it and then we did. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be! And it was fun!

Which leads me to the biggest lesson I learned - or was at least reminded of - from this week. Too often our heads get in the way of what our bodies are able to do. If I can just distract my brain for a few minutes, or tell my brain to stop holding me back and just do what I don't think I can do...I can actually do it. 

The same goes for writing. So often I sit down to write and feel stuck but as soon as I can tell my brain to stop getting in my way, my words start flowing. It's not easy, but it's helpful to know that it's really possible. I can revise this novel I'm working on. I have to stop thinking about it and just do it. 
Which reminds me of my mantra: I believe I can and I will. It works for yoga, it works for writing, it works for lots of other things. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

JOIN: Celebrating Summer and First Line Mentor Texts

Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.

It's summer! At least for a few of us in our house it is. My husband's school gets out on June 9th but the boys and I have been off for a week already. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous. We've been to the pool twice and my mom, my sister, and I took the boys to Cedar Point for a few days. I had never been and it was super fun!

While we were away, I left my computer at home and it was nice to have the freedom to just enjoy being away and spending time with my family. We have some great stories to share and so many laughs. While we were at the water park, I found a seed idea for a middle grade novel. We'll see if I ever write it but I was glad that I at least had my writer's notebook with me so I could jot down ideas. A writer can never underestimate the power of living. It gives you ideas! If I just sat in front of my computer all the time, I wouldn't have stuff to write about. 

Speaking of writing, I've been working on a picture book and I find that using first lines from other picture book as mentor texts really helps me. Too often, my first versions are more to the point and would be considered "telling". The good thing about picture books is it's super easy to just start again since they are so short. After I write a first draft, I'll go back and pull some mentor texts, read them for ideas of how the story rolls out, and then I'll pull a line or two and try writing my own lines with the same rhythm or style. I've done this a few times with different manuscripts and with different mentor texts. It helps me so much! If you want ideas for snatches of text, you can visit Teach Mentor Texts for lots of ideas!