Learning by Doing

My summer began and ended with big writing projects.  In May, I wrote this guest post for Two Writing Teachers. I spent hours planning, writing and revising that piece.  Then, in August, I wrote a homily  for the opening faculty chapel at my school. As I planned, wrote, rewrote, lamented, sweated, and rewrote some more, I kept thinking about the fact that both pieces would be widely shared with real audiences. That knowledge motivated and terrified me.

In the end I was pretty satisfied with both projects.  But the best part was how much I learned about myself as a writer.
  • I learned that I spend a lot of time planning and rehearsing in my head before I ever start writing.
  • I learned that getting started is hard for me.
  • I learned that I need to see examples of the kinds of writing I am trying to create.
  • I learned that I need a writing partner. In fact, I need someone on call 24/7 who will read, critique, encourage, celebrate, critique some more, read again and celebrate with me.
  • I learned that I need specific feedback about words, meaning, tone and structure.
  • I learned that I need to reread what I write- often.
  • I learned that I fatigue. That sometimes I need a break before trying to revise yet again.
  • I learned that revising sometimes leads to real breakthroughs and other times feels slow and painful.
  • I learned that it is okay to disagree with my writing partner- especially when I am thoughtful about my reasons for disagreeing. 
  • I learned that it feels amazing to share a piece of writing to which I’ve given my all.

4 thoughts on “Learning by Doing

  1. Close

    I enjoyed your list of what you learned about yourself as a writer: many of those things resonate with me.
    I'd add that, once I do start writing, I tend to “over write” and wind up with a big blob of text that is very difficult to revise. But I seem to need to write all that stuff and then sometimes set it aside and write again from a fresh document.
    Congrats on two major writing projects. Very nice work for a summer.


  2. How wonderful that you “bookended” your summer with these writing projects! Congratulations! And such great learning, as a result. May your writing continue through the school year!


  3. Wonderful to see all that learning, so much to apply to student work too. I guess that it all applies to me, too, but the first one is huge. I 'noodle' over things for a long time before the words are written. Thanks, Lisa, and congratulations on both pieces.


  4. Congrats on doing the hard work! I read your post on blogging (fantastic), but couldn't open the homily. Good take aways for me – getting started is hard and revising can lead to breakthroughs, but can also feel slow and painful.


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