Celebrate This Week: Signs of a Writing Life

For years I have been disturbed by the fact that my students didn’t love, in fact didn’t even like writing. Writing was hard, not fun.This was painful. Clearly I was doing something wrong.  I wanted writing to be something that could make a difference for them; could give them voice. But they weren’t seeing it that way.

So I got them blogging.

It helped a little. But I still didn’t see them jump for writing like they did for reading.

So this year I decided to give students dedicated time everyday to write what they wanted outside of workshop time. I hoped this would help them create a bigger space for their writing lives.

It worked for some. Most needed a push, a reminder, a quick tip, a mini mini lesson, a bit of inspiration to keep going. They needed to be taught to be independent writers.

Time and choice wasn’t enough. The workshop time taught them how to write in workshop, but outside of it they were rather lost.

I added in lessons to teach towards that independent writing life I was imagining for my students and myself: some thematic ones like One Little Word work; gathering ideas; craft lessons dropped in here and there; access to the iPads for blogging and google doc creation. And I wrote beside them in various ways.

Documents and posts started to appear. They were far from perfect but they were growing in number. It was writing. Their writing. Writing they had taken through their process and published on their own. It seemed like more. They jumped for the iPads. But was it for the technology or was it for writing.

So this week, I asked — What is good about writing?

I like how it comes together at the end.

I thought I knew something, but after writing it I knew so much more.

 I like writing about myself. I think I should write a book.

It helps me express my emotions.

Telling stories I want to read.

It makes me feel free. .

Writing stories in my journal.

Getting to write what I want to write.

Showing my accomplishments.

Going back and making it better.

Getting lots of comments! .

Getting it done.

I asked: What are the struggles?

Knowing what to write.

Sometimes there are no words..

I want to share, but I don’t know how.


Getting started.

Getting stuck.


Is it writing love? Maybe not yet.

Do they like writing more than the beginning of the year?  I’m going to boldly say yes.

Is there more I can do? Absolutely.

I need to wear the love of writing as I have for reading, to quote Lucy Calkins, “on my sleeve.” It needs to be bigger. I need to really write before their eyes. And fail. And try again. They need a real live model. I really haven’t done this enough. There are moments but it isn’t enough.

To be honest, I’ve been that model as a reader. Reading with them. Discovering and loving books with them.

Writing needs to be apparent and heartfelt:  a shared place and space we love and grow together.

This week I celebrate my student writers and our growing writing lives. We have a way to go, but i think I’ve found a possible pathway.

celebrate link up

Happy Saturday. Enjoy more celebrations on Ruth Ayers’ blog here.





9 thoughts on “Celebrate This Week: Signs of a Writing Life

  1. I agree. We are working on exactly the same thing. I’m using Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine as a read aloud…specifically for Writing Workshop. I’m writing and struggling with my own writing project too. It’s amazing to watch them struggle and grow as writers in their writing groups! Happy Writing!

  2. Julieanne, that your students are in love with reading is absolutely a celebration in itself! And that you’re working on uncovering what compels a writer to love writing I believe may mean you have the start to a work we could all use: Writing in the Wild! (Big gratitude to Donalyn Miller.) Nerdy Writers Club?

    Thank you for sharing your work with your kids. Always illuminating and inspiring.

  3. Every week I look forward to discovering the celebration you share. The fact that even some see writing in a new light is a celebration. You have given them the opportunity to live as a writer, that’s awesome! Being a passionate reader is so much easier than being a writer.

  4. This post really resonates with me this week. I guest taught a colleague’s class this week–a methods course on teaching writing for pre-service teachers. Pretty much none of them has a writing life outside of the writing they do for school assignments. I think that’s the first step!

  5. It sounds as if you’re doing all the ‘right stuff’, so maybe the students need to have similar expectations, & don’t know what they are. There are times that my modeling doesn’t ‘fit’, but classmates’ modeling does. I’m glad to hear you’re seeing movement, Julieanne! FYI-I could find you, but your link is the incorrect link!

  6. Maybe “love” is too big of a word for students? How about we celebrate understanding, experimenting, learning and appreciating? The enthusiasm of kids isn’t always dependent on what we do. With some groups it takes so little to ignite love, with others you could use tricks and spells with minimal results. You do a lot, and from my point of view the young writers in your class are growing together with you.

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