Tuesday, April 11, 2017

On Becoming a Writer

I am lucky.

My history as a writer is a pretty good one.

When I was in elementary school, I had the same teacher for three straight years. This teacher LOVED to write. She made sure "Creative Writing" (that's what they called it back then) was on our schedule every day.

I don't remember getting my writing back with red marks on it. Actually, I don't remember there being any marks on my writing papers at all because my teacher talked to us about our writing.

My writing life began pretty well.

          {I know not everyone is that lucky.}

As an adult, my writing identity continues to grow and I am excited when I think of how far I've come.  There are a few experiences I credit for making this so.

The NWP's Summer Institute at UW-Milwaukee: This is where I got serious as a writer and a writing teacher. I learned why it is so important for teachers to be writers, developed my adult writing habit, and learned how powerful feedback was when it was given in a thoughtful, supportive way.

Blogging: I have had a few blogs in recent years, most recently this one you are reading right now where I share personal stories and now a professional blog at Teach Write where I share ideas for the writing classroom. These blogs are the forum for me to make my writing public.

Community: As a result of blogging, I have connected with so many wonderful teachers and writers from around the country (YOU!). I am blessed that some of these connections have turned into friendships even. The support I receive from all of you helps me continue to grow as a writer and teacher every day.

Teach Write: Because of my passions for writing and teaching, I have begun a new consulting business that I will pursue full-time after this school year. Teach Write is where I will continue to develop as a writer and teacher and help other educators do the same.

What experiences have shaped your writing identity? Good or bad, we all have come from somewhere. 

{PS: This post was inspired by the Literacy Lenses blog who asked its readers to think and write about the experiences that have made us the writers we are today. You are welcome to add your own writing story to their post too.}


  1. I love reading about your writing path! My story isn't very exciting, but it is growing. I never considered myself a writer until on a whim I took my very last grad class, the Millersville Writing Institute in 2012. As a result of that class my blog was born. I too have been fortunate to meet other bloggers like you! I value our time and our "blogship" (friendship via the blog!) I am so excited for your new venture and love reading your posts at Teach Write too!

  2. I loved reading your story. I would love to get involved with NWP, but living overseas makes that hard. My writing life has been pushed along by The Two Writing Teachers blogging community and the connections I have made there. This summer it will be enhanced by a week at the TC Advanced Writing Institute. I look forward to learning more about your new venture.

  3. Funny, in an indirect way, I wrote about my start as a writer too. It didn't start as early as yours did. Sadly, I remember little of writing creatively in school and I do remember red marks...even on worksheets that were called, "Writing". I'm so excited to see where this new journey takes you! Congrats to my friend, the writer!

  4. I've always loved to write, but my identity as a teacher who writes, rather than a teacher of writing, is new. It's been supported and emboldened by this group at Two Writing Teachers and, maybe not-so-uniquely (although I feel like it is) cheerleaded by my family.

  5. I enjoyed reading about your writing past, Jennifer, loved hearing about that teacher. I kept a journal for years when I was young, wrote a lot in school, & had a marvelous hs teacher for two years that really gave me a boost. My writing continued with students all through the years, and now in blogging which has been an inspiration too. I wish you the best in this next step of your own adventures!

  6. It's so nice to hear that you had a supportive-from-the-beginning writing life! I'm excited to follow the direction of your new endeavor!

  7. I wrote stories as a student, and I do not remember getting red marks. I don't remember much feedback at all other than an overall compliment. But then many years went by. I so wish blogging (or even computers for that matter!) would have been around in my early 20's and 30"s - I know I would have loved it then as much as I do now. I can't wait to see where your adventure leads you now!

  8. I remember the first NWP event I went to and realized it was my tribe! What a great group of people.
    I was part of a writing group that was called "Creative Writing" but it was a small pull out group and we only met a few times. I never forgot that I was part of that writing group with the special folders. I held onto the praise over the years about my writing. I was just texting a friend today that I wish that I would have written more in high school and even college.
    Here they have Saturday Seminars through NWP and I attend as many as possible.
    Thanks for sharing and allowing these great memories of mine to release and come flooding back!

  9. I enjoyed reading about your writing "history." You made me stop and think about my own. There's always been writing in my life, but I just now realized how varied it has been. Journaling, copy editing, technical writing, even ghostwriting, and of course teaching writing ... but I was a little slow to the blogging. Just started a little over a year ago. I'm excited for you as you enter a new season of your professional life.

  10. Jennifer, thank you for this reflection. I've followed the breadcrumbs of my reading before...but not so much my writing. Hmmm.

  11. "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." In your case the teacher remained with you for three years - wow! The joy, confidence and stamina were instilled in you at an early age. I had a similar experience with a nun in the 5th grade in 1972 who also believed in "creative writing." Thanks for inspiring other teachers to realize their impact their creative ventures can have on their students.


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