Slice of Life Tuesday: Writing “Process”

I spent a LOT of my time writing this weekend.

Between one purpose and another, I probably spent 8-10 hours with my fingers on these keys. All of it was good, and writing in that great a volume has me wondering if I should be expecting more of myself or not. That line between grace and tough love is a fine one, my friends.

It’s funny. In my early years of teaching, I spent a lot of time teaching (yes, Capital Letter) The Writing Process. I even remember the cute bulletin board I made illustrating each of the phases of the writing process as part of the life cycle of the butterfly:
from the prewriting egg…
to the drafting caterpillar…
to the editing BIGGER caterpillar…
to the revising chrysalis…
to the WOW! published butterfly.
We’d move from phase to phase, mostly in order. Every so often I’d congratulate myself for letting students march through the phases at their own pace.

Now, here’s the thing. I don’t regret being that teacher. I don’t regret sticking to the curriculum that was given to me. I won’t judge the teacher I was back then. I taught writing with joy, and that still goes a long way towards instilling love for writing. Even though I’ve learned better models in the years since, I’m grateful for what I learned about writing as an early teacher.

I’m also grateful that I’ve become a writer myself. I’m just now at the point now where I’m truly beginning to consider how much being a writer has done for me as a teacher of writing. What it’s done for my students as young writers. I’m just now at the point where I’m discovering the magic, the limitless potential of leaning into that idea.

I’ve also thought back to those days of the 5-step plan for writing, and I remember them with a smile. The process of writing, in real life, for real people, has turned out to be a lot…MESSIER than I ever gave it credit for. When my kids ask me about the best writing process, I think my response should be to tell them to develop their own, with instruction and support. (Maybe it’ll be their weekly writing challenge – hint, hint, kids!) And then, I’ll share my own approach with them. I’d like to say it’s tongue-in-cheek, but there’s much more reality to this than I might want to admit.

MY WRITING PROCESS

Prethinking
Thinking
Mentally crafting
Writing
Taking out words
Trying not to open other tabs on my desktop
Overthinking
Reworking
Taking out more words
Tweaking
Re-reading
Taking out more words
Re-tweaking
Re-over-Thinking

Letting things sit

Rereading
Re-re-tweaking
Taking out more words

LETTING THE THING GO ALREADY

Thinking about my life choices


people of the jury, I give you…exhibit A

This post is part of the weekly Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Check them out!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Writing “Process”

  1. Lainie, a vital and valuable post on The Writing Process (caps indeed) and the evolution of The Teacher (who deserves a capital here, at least!). First – love that line on the line between grace and tough love being a fine one. That is the truth, in any situation and certainly in the writing life. I appreciate the way you look back without regrets on the teacher you were (emerging from your own chrysalis in due time, shall we say). The process is forever metamorphosis, often without clearly defined stages – I am forever revising as I draft. These aren’t separate for me, much as you describe in your process. I think the hardest thing to communicate to young – maybe even not so young – writers is that the process is so utterly fluid, until you let the thing go already (as always, you sing my own song, friend)! Love this on so many levels, for every unapologetic and humorous truth, for your stalwart writer-heart.

    1. Here I am wondering why I never saw my OWN evolution in the writing process as metamorphosis. Along comes Fran to point out the metaphors I slept through this whole darn time. YES! The trick is, I’m not sure if (or when) there is ever that butterfly stage. Are we ever “there?” Or do we just spend time alternating through our growth cycles, scaling back then bursting forth? I’m going to have to think about this. I mean, I guess we’re ALL revisions in one form or another? Maybe this is the root of another post waiting to happen…Thanks, as always, for your wisdom.

  2. I think all teachers of writing have taught The Writing Process at one time or another. I know I have. I have learned after many years that this is a starting point. As we progress in our writing the process we use evolves. The way we write and the tools of writing change so why shouldn’t our process? We didn’t have laptops when I started. It was paper and pencil. Different kinds of distractions. For me, the process has never been linear. it is a convoluted mess. but it works for me.

    1. Right? I feel like it’s part of the evolution, as long as we DO evolve over time. And yes, I remember the pre-tech days all by hand. I remember having my students mark X’s on every other line so that there was space for said edits and revisions.

      I actually still have students who prefer writing by hand, believe it or not.

      And…yes, the writing process is DEFINITELY convoluted and messy. I’m just starting to realize it’s OK for kids to learn that too. Rather than being discouraged, I’ve found that they’re heartened. It helps them to know that their struggles are just part of the creative process.

  3. Haha, I think my greatest challenge out of the entire process is ‘trying not to open other tabs’. That’s the killer right there. And God forbid I land on YouTube—there goes an hour of writing time. I always enjoy reading about other writers’ creative processes, so thanks for this!

    1. Absolutely! I find the inclination hits *right* when the thinking gets difficult, or my thoughts get too deep. I’ve been trying to learn to stay with the moment, even if it’s difficult, but…yeah.

  4. But those writing process charts from the teacher stores say that this is the way to go through the writing process!
    Ha! I actually wrote about this very topic a few years ago, https://www.weareteachers.com/writing-process-not-linear/. Your writing process sounds like the one I had illustrated at the top of this article. Writing is messy. And those of us who write regularly know that. (Your 13 revisions sound on par for the number I have when I’m drafting posts.)

  5. Oh, how I shook my head at this. We have quite the similar writing process. It remains an excruciating trial to get to “Just post it already!” It’s better than it used to be, but it’s still a hard path.

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