Earlier this week, TWT posted a quote that resonated with me. I immediately pulled out my writer’s notebook and scribbled it down under “Quotes I Love.” For today’s slice, I thought I’d write in response to it and see where it takes me.
“To write something, you have to risk making a fool out of yourself.” by: Anne Rice
In writer’s workshop, you have to be a risk-taker. When a writer writes, he bares his soul for others to see. Opens himself up. Becomes vulnerable. It can be scary to do that, especially if you don’t feel comfortable with your classmates. If you’re worried about being made fun of or called stupid, you’re less likely to do real writing and far less likely to share your writing with others.
OK, so how can you get past this hurdle? How can you make your classroom a place where students feel comfortable to write and share their true feelings? One way is by modeling. Being authentic and genuine in front of your students. Have you ever truly been your authentic self in your classroom? Have you allowed your students to see the “real” you, not the “teacher version” of you? If you allowed yourself to be open, and showed a bit more of you, you’d be surprised by how the authenticity will spread through your students. Now does this mean you have to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets? No, of course not, but it does mean that you what you write shows who you are. If you’re afraid to write or share your writing with your students, how can you expect them to risk doing it?
As a teacher of writing, it’s important to carve out time to write. To nurture and grow yourself as a writer. I know it’s hard. I know there isn’t always time. I don’t always do it, but when I do, magical things begin to happen. My students value their own writing more, they become more willing to try out new things, and they begin to see writing as life work rather than school work. That’s the point of writer’s workshop, isn’t it?
Sometimes I make a fool out of myself in front of my students. Sometimes this is when I’m sharing my writing, but in doing so, I’m actually showing them that it’s OK. It’s OK to make a fool out of yourself. We all do it. No one’s going to laugh at or ridicule you. We’re a community and we care about and support one another.
Writing about writing and being able to be vulnerable in front of others got me thinking about the value of being vulnerable in other areas of my life. It’s risky to open your heart and show others both your strengths and weaknesses, but the dividends that result from living this kind of authentic life are worth it! I strive to be authentic. I strive to be genuine. I strive to be vulnerable.