#SOL15: Wrapping up 2014 and Studying my Writing Process

Last week was a big week for writing assessments as well as professional development planning.  I was also working on some planning for future demonstrations. . . typical multi-tasking for a fairly typical week!  I actually kept a post-it open on my desktop to keep track of my writing process for this blog because it was the purest “creation” that I was developing.  Most of the other pieces were revisions or combinations of other past work.

The picture below from Jan Burkins and  Kim Yaris fascinated me last week!  Stop and read that blog about the writing process if you haven’t yet, because there is so much wisdom about what each of these “steps” really looks like!  Not every single second of writing is visible so take a deep breath and consider your own writing process as you develop a piece of writing from planning to publication.

My mini-research:  Does my writing parallel this?

wring process burkins and yaris

What was my topic for this next slice?  

I had spent some time in December looking at my blog data and wondering what my top blog posts were for 2014 when I wrote an average of two posts per week or at least one “slice” each week as well as a daily “slice” during March.

To begin my planning for this post, I went to my data to double check the top five blog posts and then created this table in Word. After previewing it, I decided that I didn’t like the “picture of the table” so I went with a word version so the links would be clickable. This caused a major discussion with myself about how I would classify adding links to the table. Was that Revision or Editing?  (I went with editing due to “surface changes”!)

5 #TCRWP Day One: Reading Institute
4 #TCRWP:  Informational Writing Goals
3 #TCRWP and a Teacher’s Toolkit for Teaching Writing
2 Lexile Level is NOT Text Complexity CCSS.R.10
1 Close Reading in Kindergarten?  Is it Possible?

My top topics for 2014 were:  Close Reading, Text Complexity, and #TCRWP Writing (2) and Reading (1). . . a mixed list.  Looking back at blog data for previous years revealed that “Close Reading in Kindergarten?  Is it Possible?” was also my top blog post for 2013.  (As a side note “Close Reading and the Little Ones” was also a great presentation at #NCTE14 by Chris Lehman, Kate Roberts, and Kristi Mraz. Check out Catherine Flynn’s post here about the presentation and how she used it.)

I learned two things about my process for writing blog posts.

1) I keep a list of possible blog topics.  By the time a topic is put on this list, I have already begun the pre-writing process.  I’m not sure that I can accurately record how often I work on “prewriting” because the list often includes two or three specific ideas about the topic.

2) I needed to add another step to the writing process.  Sometimes I do collect some information/evidence collaboratively with others.  However, that is NOT the step that I added as I developed this post. This post included both a picture and a table import with multiple opportunities to “check” or “preview” my work.  I included that as another step in the writing process.  Typically, I try to check to see what my post looks like on both a PC and a Mac because it is never the same.  Maybe the “preview” is important because I worry about the “publish” button.  It is still scary to push that button and then see that my post  does not match my “vision” for writing.

So here’s my best representation of my process for writing this blog post.

my writing process

Does everyone use the same exact process?

What does your writing process look like?

What are the implications for your students?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.

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21 responses

  1. I participated in “Teachers Write” this past summer, and a lot of authors wrote about their process. I did what you have done: I considered my process, what I like to do, and how some of their ideas might help me when I am stuck. One person said she starts writing her novels in the middle sometimes, and another said she moves whole chapters from one spot to another. All of this helped me to stop thinking of things in an absolute line when I am writing. J. K. Rowling has added a lot of writing process posts on Pottermore, which I find fascinating as well. For example, there is a whole past about how to invented the names for about 50 of Harry’s classmates before the series even got properly started. Some of those names became characters and some didn’t. I think it is very worthwhile to do what you have suggested and map out ones own process.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I think it helps to consider your own process when working with students. If we don’t all use the exact same process, why would we expect all students to use the exact same process?

      It’s another source of information to inform our own instruction!

  2. We are honored to have spurred your thinking. Very cool that you tracked your writing process; I can only imagine what mine really looks like! I may have to try to post-it tracking system and find out. I think your addition of “Preview” updates the writing process, making it more 21st century. No more recopying long-hand. Just press a button.

    1. Thanks, Jan, for the inspiration! It’s hard to talk about writing without including the writing process because not every piece of writing should be a draft, nor should every piece of writing necessarily be published!

      I also struggled with where to put “adding details” and “elaborating” when it was more than just linking. I think there is a huge benefit to “considering the many decisions that a writer makes” while developing a piece of writing. It’s monumental – and worthy of upping the ante for students so they can reflect on the metacognitive processes involved! 🙂

  3. I love this discussion because our process does usually inform how we teach. I also appreciate the links that you put in. It got me thinking again about Close Reading with the little ones…and we literally have been doing this forever with our very complex books for the little ones. I recently did this with a terrific new read Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio…love loved it. xo

    1. Teaching is so complicated and we do need to pay attention to how reading and writing inform each other. I will have to check out Gaston! Thanks for the comment and the new book.

  4. Fran, I love reading your posts! I have read many of your posts that I return to. You write in a way that makes it easy to come back to or to reference your posts with others. After reading your post this morning, I feel like I need to develop a system for my posts (other than just in March). Be more intentional, more organized. Look at revision a little differently. Thank you for making me think and dig a little deeper this morning!

    1. Jaana,
      I’m working on my list for the March “slice” challenge. There are many ideas that I want to explore.

      I’m fascinated by my own thinking as I write, but I’m sure that each writer approaches the process differently . . . and that is okay! 🙂

    2. Like you, I fly by the seat of my pants in March finding inspiration in daily things. I have never been all that intentional. I’m not sure this old dog can learn a new trick. But that’s ok. Your process is what works for you, right?

  5. I love how you had the discipline to track your thinking as you put your post together. I’ve noticed sometimes I write fast and then move everything around. Sometimes I write and then realize what I really wanted to say and start over! My writing process seems to find it’s way slowly, up, around and down! A scribbly mess! That is what makes strategies soo helpful for me with students. It’s so hard to pinpoint what I do into a way for others! Thank you Fran for making me noodle this around!

    1. Julieanne,
      So now I am wondering if I have a different process for my more “informational” writing vs. my narrative writing? I’m going to continue to monitor this, because I know I do a lot of “pre-writing” during basic “drive time” as I worry my way through a writing tangle!

      I didn’t find a line on my pc that let me be more “scribbly” as I’m sure that I had to be outside of the process sometimes as well. I love flash drafting for myself in order to get my thoughts down and then moving to revision or editing . . .

      This was not a “deep thinking” post so my process was easier to track than for some . . . and was definitely a result of “focus on the writing process”. You are welcome! I know you will be thinking about this as you watch your kiddos write!

  6. It is always interesting to read about the process people go through when they write. I must admit that there are a few Tuesdays when my process id Holy Spirit enlighten me because I have no idea what to write about. Today is one of those days since I am commenting instead of writing and posting. I’m sure something will come before the day is over.

    1. “Praying” is often a step in the process; at least, praying that my writing will not be a total disaster! “In search of a topic” and “being flexible” would both describe you. There’s a lot of daylight left!

      You will be fine! ❤

  7. I am reading this on my lunch break. I think I will include the graphic in my next class lesson. I do multiple previews to see how my blog post looks. Also it is easier to see mistakes in that format. I have never thought about this before and should bring it up with my blogging students. Thanks!

    1. Margaret,
      I am interested to see what your students think. I preview often also for the “possible errors” and the whole visual presentation. Not sure if that works for your kiddos but it sure is NOT the old: plan on Monday, draft on
      Tuesday, Revise on Wednesday . . .mentality/ order that I might have once in my younger days “thought” was a writing process. I’m a firm believer that being able to “NAME” it brings clarity to the writing work. (not about 1 process for all) ❤

  8. So now I feel completely inadequate – my slicing habits are utterly random and untrackable. You are one organized and disciplined thinker, Fran!

    1. Tara,
      If I could write like you do and the habits were random and untrackable, I would literally be in HOG heaven (remember my dad was a pork producer)!

      I am so not organized and disciplined – that’s my OCD as well as “lack of memory” because I often have to search my blog to see if I wrote about “it” and just forgot to cross the topic OFF my list!!!

      I don’t write well under pressure and sympathize with those students who do not respond well to “on demands” . . . I need lots of think time! (old, old brain!) ❤

  9. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Fran! I’m honored to be included in this terrific post. Your process sounds pretty similar to mine: lots of thinking while driving, lots of false starts, and that preview button! Your last question is such a critical one. It seems to me we have to give kids time to figure out their process and opportunities to write about topics they care about. Why can’t it be that simple?

    1. Catherine,
      It’s so much fun to read, write, and think in parallel worlds. Your post fit into the topic so well and became a part of an editing loop for me. You are totally welcome!

      Sometime I will count how often I hit “preview” when working on about 500 words, it’s a bunch! Time, space, room for thinking and changing the process . . . exactly what the students need too! It really should NOT take more hours during the day! (also sounds like some simple solutions. . .)

      I look forward to continuing our learning journey!!! ❤

  10. Fran your post has really pushed me to consider my own writing process – which at the moment seems very intimidating. Thanks for sharing your own journey!

    1. Taylor,
      It’s really much “messier” than my “straight lines” show; my tech skills were limited by how my brain thought of doing this. I’ve had several suggestions about skitch that would have allowed me to have one continuous line. (Just did NOT think of it at the time!)

      I think the key is to consider if you use the same process all the time. If not, how does that match your expectations for students? Or how SHOULD it?

      Thanks for commenting!

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