In my school district, November is affectionately known as “No School November.” Between election day, a teacher workday, and three recognized holidays, we end up with only one full instructional week during the month. As a result, my twelfth-grade classes did not have a single “Writing Wednesday” week for the entire month. Even my sophomore classes only walked away with one Writing Wednesday during November.
The lack of Wednesday instructional days was clearly felt by my students, with many of them asking me repeatedly during November when we would finally begin writing again. Interestingly, my students weren’t the only ones feeling the loss. Having made it a point to always write when they write, I have engaged in regular writing as well this year. Because I teach five blocks of classes, every two weeks I have been producing five different pieces of writing. In the first two months of school, I logged over 100 pages in my Writer’s Notebook.
But my last entry feels long ago and my Notebook pen has sunk to the bottom of my pencil pouch. This has made me surprisingly sad. What I find curious is that my students and I have made it a point to not use our Writer’s Notebook as a journal. A receptacle for creative writing pieces only, what I appear to be missing is not the therapeutic aspects of self-reflection that is inherent to journaling but the discovery of self that is inherent to creative expression.
Creative writing, it turns out, is good for the soul.
Now the writers amongst us may be nodding their heads in agreement or throwing up their hands at my expression of the seemingly obvious, but I confess that my discovery was anything but obvious to me. Never having engaged in regular creative writing in the past, it never occurred to me to consider the importance of story-telling on the development of self. A life-long reader, my understanding of stories was limited almost exclusively to the perspective of the reader, not the creator. To be sure, I do not fancy myself the world’s greatest writer. No one will likely be banging down my door to see the scribbles in my Writer’s Notebook. But the scribbles in my Writer’s Notebook contain the slivers of something meaningful. And in that way, these scribbles are important.
You see, when we write – even when we write badly – we are leaving breadcrumbs that trace us back to the moment in time in which the words were written. All our writings become tiny little time capsules that hold the memories of the past and the promise of the future in one place. Writing, it turns out, is magical.
When I began this journey towards Writing Wednesdays, I genuinely believed it was in the best interest of my students. Having witnessed their Wednesday work, I believe even more firmly in the truth of that position. But it appears Writing Wednesdays are in the best interest of teachers – and of all writers – too.