3 Lame Reasons Why I Almost Didn't Write This Blog Post
Writing is incredibly difficult. It is strange to me that talking comes so naturally to most of us, while conveying the written word is a constant struggle. Somewhere in between our mouths and our hands, there is a chasm that holds all the sentences that perfectly explain what we want to communicate. From ninth grade high school students to veteran teachers, writing poses challenges for all of us, which is exactly why we should write even more.
I’ve listed below three extremely terrible excuses as to why I almost didn’t write this blog post. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?) As an English teacher, my struggle with writing outside of the workplace has left me ashamed. I teach writing. I preach its good graces on a daily basis to my ninth graders. What kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t take my own advice? Unsurprisingly, the bone-crushing weight of this shame did not leave me jumping to my laptop to compose a beautimus blog post. In fact, I felt defeated, creating silly reasons as to why I shouldn’t even consider writing as a viable option to bolster my worth as an educator.
Through encouragement and advice from the amazingly supportive people around me, I have finally come to the following conclusion in regards to writing: Despite my esteemed title of ‘English teacher,’ I’m also a person. As a person, it is within my authority to say that writing is scary. Putting your thoughts on display for the world can be nerve wracking. As a person who teaches English, I can also admit that writing is an immensely helpful and reflective practice. It leads to my own improvement as a thoughtful and well-rounded educator, and helps me demonstrate to my students the real-life applicability of the skill. And after all, what is anything in life, if not a little scary?
Reason #1: It’s there forever.
My biggest source of anxiety with writing is its permanence. Mistakes, forever immortalized, lie in the pages of books, the folds of newspapers, and, of course, the text of blogs. From the occasional grammatical error, to wildly incorrect ideologies, hindsight is always 20/20. Everything and anything could always have been done better, and the inevitability of error makes my hands shake with the weight of imperfection.
But what worries me more than being imperfect is being a hypocrite.
I ask my students to write frequently. They write summaries, paraphrases, answers to discussion questions, essays, scripts. In my class, writing to learn is a key component of the daily curriculum. Being able to compose cohesive thoughts into fluent sentences is a fine example higher order thinking skills. And yet, when faced with the opportunity to create a weekly blog that can be utilized as a similar writing-to-learn tool, I don’t take advantage of it? That is not the type of educator I want to be. I do not want to plateau into a stale version of myself, telling students that writing is great, and promptly avoiding it. I want to lead by example.
Reason #2: Nothing I say is new.
How could anything I say be beneficial if it has been said before?
This question plagues me. There are so many education blogs. Finding an available title for this blog was a chore in and of itself, because so many other blogs have already been created. (What even is ‘The’ Marshbank Classroom? The world may never know.) There are thousands of great teachers who have written great books on great education practice. What could I possibly say that would add anything to the mix?
I have two answers to this horribly pessimistic question:
1. Maybe nothing---and that’s okay.
A great blog by Jim Moulton on Edutopia stated the following, “the greatest benefit in writing for a blog, goes not to the audience but rather to the writer.” This blog is for me. If I can use this blog to develop my own writing and analytical thinking skills to create something bigger, that’s just icing. But the real cake-of-the-matter is me taking the time to reflect on teaching practice, seek out new forms of professional development, and thinking about it hard enough to get all down on paper.
2. Those great authors who write great books probably repeated someone else’s opinion a time or two themselves.
Picasso had to start by drawing a circle, and Kelly Gallagher had to start by writing one word. It’s okay for me to be bad at things. It’s okay for you to be bad at things! Let’s all be bad at things, because that’s the first step to being pretty okay at things.
Reason #3: I don’t have enough time to write (a.k.a. I don’t feel like writing right now).
When I first started teaching, my schedule was packed. PACKED. I would arrive to school on Mondays at 7:00am to staff the Writing Center, teach for the day, tutor after school until 7:00pm, let my dogs out, and promptly crash at about 7:30pm. My weekends were filled with tutoring ACT prep classes and Debate tournaments.
When I quit my tutoring job, I envisioned that my entire life would go from black and white to technicolor. I would write all the time. The budding young adult novel that’s been in the back of my head for over a year would take hold and bloom! My nonexistent blog would skyrocket to the top of the education blog stratosphere and my principal would laud my burst into the world of technology as the pinnacle of a fantastic educator!
Needless to say, none of that happened.
It’s not that I didn’t use my time wisely. I had more time to cook my meals, blow dry my hair, play with my dogs, explore Skyrim, and spend time with my family. However, with all these different uses of my time, I didn’t feel like writing. In moments like those, I have found myself turning to the wise words of Pulitzer-prize winning American novelist Anne Tyler:
My problem had shifted. No longer was I so strapped for time that the mere thought of writing was ludicrous, but my motivation had waned. When there are so many great things to do, what is the motivation to sit down and bust out a blog post? I have come to terms with the concept that self improvement is a great use of my time. For now, writing feels like eating my vegetables. They don’t taste bad and they’re healthy, but I still stare longingly at dessert. Hopefully, as I evolve as a person, writing will become my main course.
As many reasons as I found not to write this blog post, here it is. Written. I feel a great amount of pride at the work that I’ve created, and an almost equal amount of anxiety that I’ve missed a typo. In the end, this is a positive thing. I’m eager to start on this blogging journey. Thank you so much for reading.