Think of the feeling when you have to wear “church” clothes. Or maybe for you, it’s easier to think about wearing a formal, like for a wedding or a fancy dinner. You probably feel all stiff and uncomfortable, maybe itchy and hot. If you’re in the wedding, you might feel like everyone is watching you, just waiting for you to make a mistake or drop something. If you’re at that fancy dinner, you might be nervous that you’ll use the wrong fork, or not be able to read the menu because it’s in another language. I remember that from prom when my date and I went to a really expensive French restaurant. I couldn’t even have fun because I was so stressed out!
Now I don’t know about you, but at the end of a long day (even a great day like we had today), the first thing I do when I get home is put on my pjs. I get comfortable–kind of like what you (or a kiddo) might do after that wedding, after you get home from church, after that fancy dinner is over. From constricted to comfortable, into our “play clothes.”
That first example is how many people–kids and adults alike–feel about writing. It’s uncomfortable and hard, with a when-will-this-be-over kind of feeling. Writer’s Workshop is a hated time, when all the pressure is on, and the teacher is watching your ever move. Students may feel like they can’t do anything right, and they’re afraid they might make a mistake.
I want my writers to remember instead their play clothes; the way they feel and they freedom they are allowed in them. When you’re wearing your play clothes you can get messy, run around, fall down and make mistakes. There are no rules, really. You feel alive!
So I want it to be in their Writer’s Notebook. I want the writers I work with to feel energized when they sit down to write, ready to play with words and see what happens. Their notebooks are allowed to be messy; it’s from the mess that masterpieces may emerge.
And so another notebook strategy was added today: Goof Around Writing.
First, I shared two entries from my own Writer’s Notebooks. One was called “Ode to Mashed Potatoes” and the second was “Oh Sewing Machine, You are my Enemy!” Each was just for fun, about how mashed potatoes tease me with their goodness but make me “fat, fat, fat” and then about a “fight” I had with my sewing machine last year when it wouldn’t work right. Both were written in a playful manner, meant to sound silly and make you laugh. But still, they were both based on my life.
Then my friends had a go. They LOVED this, and there was much giggling as we shared our entries. There were MANY kiddos who thought that you, dedicated blog reader, should be able to see what they did. So here are some examples of what we did in our play clothes when we were just goofing around with our writing:
What do you do when you’re “goofing around” with writing? What do your play clothes look like? Please leave us a comment and tell us about it! We’d love to read your thoughts! 🙂