Write a letter to yourself of 4 weeks ago. It will be sent back through time and delivered to you on July 9th, 2017…right before you begin Teachers Write. What advice would you give yourself? What can you tell yourself about what the experience will be like and how it might change your writing or teaching?
Last year you decided to join Teachers Write for the four weeks. What’s interesting is last year was the first time I joined the group. I wrote a bunch of posts, but I never published them on my blog. I did respond with comments on the Teachers Write blog. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed since I joined Book Love Foundation Book Club, and the Unstoppable Writing Teacher book club on Facebook. In addition, I am trying to read at least 40 books for #book challenge. I am also babysitting my daughter’s dog.
I will commit and jump in and follow the blog and write a response each day.
Today’s Assignment: Let’s work on our characters a little bit. I want you do explore your character’s virtues and flaws. Write a scene or memory in which his or her main virtue is clear. Then rewrite the scene with the virtue out of balance—make it into a flaw, and see what you can come up with. Have fun – and feel free to share a paragraph or two from today’s quick-write in the comments if you’d like!
Today’s assignment: Expand one of the basic facts below into a scene using character, setting, and perhaps dialogue (must be authentic for nonfiction! ). Keep in mind that there are many other techniques to use – for example, suspense. Don’t be afraid to do a little research. Write on!
Fact #1 Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall.
Fact #2 Journalist Nellie Bly raced around the world.
Reluctantly, I took the money. And learned a life-long lesson. Your word is everything. If you can’t follow through on a promise, explain why. Because otherwise your word means next to nothing. To this day, I try my best to only make a promise when I know it’s one I can keep.
For today’s Friday Feedback, share an excerpt that you have transformed by asking why. Make sure you dig deep, then deeper, then deeper still. I look forward to reading your excerpts!
7/16/17 Sunday Erica Perl:
Write a love letter to an inanimate object or intangible concept. Go!
7/15/17 Erin Hagar
Free write activity: Take a character from your WIP (any age) and think about a toy they might own or used to own. (The toy doesn’t have to be a part of the work right now, and don’t feel like you have to find a way to force it into your work. This is just an exercise to learn more about your character.) Free write about that toy, considering some of the following questions:
How did your character get the toy? Was it a gift? A hand-me-down? Did he find it? Steal it? How did the character feel about getting it? How does the character feel about the toy now?
What’s the toy made of? Is it plush? China? Wood? Plastic? How does it move? What condition is it in? Why? Where is it in the character’s room? Displayed in a protective plastic case? Stuffed in the bottom of the closet? Does anyone else want it? Does anyone make fun of it? Is it played with? Alone or with other characters? Under what conditions does your character most want to play with that toy?
Does the toy have a life of its own when the child is away? If the toy could speak, what would it say? What would be a memorable occasion in its life?
Prompt 1: Go somewhere quiet and calm your mind. Turn off your busy brain and focus on your deepest emotions. Think about your current work in progress, if you have one. If not, think about something you’ve already written for Teachers Write. If you haven’t started writing yet, just think about why you want to write in the first place. Now journal for ten minutes about the following questions:
Why must you tell this story?
What are you really writing about?
Why do you care so much?
What meaning are you trying to create for yourself?
Optional: Once you’ve completed that exercise, go back and look at your work in progress to see if there are ways to put your most authentic self more prominently into your story. Is the work achieving what you’re really wanting it to? Where can you make adjustments that will reveal a bit more of your innermost heart?
Prompt 2: You can also use this basic concept to brainstorm new story ideas!
Write down a list of things that make you feel any kind of strong emotion: happy, sad, scared, angry… you name it. Think about why each item on your list makes you feel the way it does. Is there a story there? Make a document or folder where you can store these kinds of ideas whenever and wherever the emotion strikes!
Whatever you choose to write, feel free to share a paragraph or two in the comments today!
My story is actually a true story.
My sister Chris is a nurse and was a smoker and during the winter she was shoveling snow and she was experiencing chest pain. She ended up going to a cardiologist who informed her that she needed to have triple bypass surgery. My sister Stephanie and I went to Yale the day of the surgery. We were nervous and concerned. We were the only ones in the waiting room when we got there.
Shortly after, an older woman and a man sat in the waiting room. As the woman was talking to the man she was scratching the side of her head. That is when I noticed that she was wearing a wig. As she continued to talk she kept scratching her head and I started to laugh because the wig kept moving up. Her husband kept talking, oblivious to what it looked like. I looked at Stephanie, and I saw a smirk and tears in her eyes. I quickly got up and walked to the hallway while Stephanie followed me. We were laughing hysterically. Tears of laughter were running down our face. We eventually got it together and returned to the waiting room. The man and woman had left.
In the end, the operation went well. It scared her enough to stop smoking. To this day whenever one of us brings up the story about the woman’s wig, we crack up.