Writing Tips from Kinder Part 1: Excuses

Twenty-five percent of my Kindergarten class speaks English as a first language. The other twelve students speak another language at home and came in at varying degrees of speaking, from rough converstional to absolutely nothing. In the last six months, part of my job has been to teach them to write in English. Every thought is a struggle, every word is a struggle. But if they can write, so can you.

I wrote Ashes in my spare time left over while teaching Kindergarten. The first thing that I had to learn to get past was the excuses.

  1. My biggest excuse was time. I usually work nine or ten hour days and my round trip drive daily is two hours. If I want to function at my best, chasing 5 year olds all day, I need eight ours of sleep. That leaves me four hours a day to spend on food, hygiene, friends, Oak, WoW/Netflix/writing.

    If you noticed that I grouped writing in with my fun time, you noticed my first mistake. To get anything done, I had to stop thinking of writing as just a fun thing to do in my spare time. Yes, it is fun. Yes, I enjoy it. Yes, I need to schedule it in like a part time job.

    Miss, I know it is writing time but I don’t know what to write right now!

    We have so much to do that we break down our time into little chunks so we can get a little bit done every day. This is our chance to write today. I want you to sit down wherever you choose–desk or comfy chair, corner or carpet–and write. Think about our topic and draw, list, or write what you see.

    If you don’t know what to write, write what you say. Pretend like you are telling a friend about your topic but instead of saying the words out loud, write them. If you don’t know how to spell it, find it in the room or stretch it and listen for each sound. Write what you can and draw the rest.

    Write as much as you can and tomorrow we can come back and fix it or add more.

    We’re out of time but I want to keep writing!

    I know that we don’t get much time to write every day but you can always spend our extra bits of time working on it. For example, in the morning if you get here early you can read or write. If you want to, pull out your writing notebook and keep working then. In between, you can always be writing in your head by thinking through what you want to say.

  2. My second excuse was that I had too many distractions when typing my book on the computer between Facebook, Netflix, WoW, and even Oak poking me because I wasn’t sitting on the same level as him.

    Miss, I would much rather talk to my friends right now or play tag in the classroom.

    It is so tempting to do everything you can except write. Right now, you need to put your writing cap on because you are a writer. Writers get rid of all of their distractions. They don’t talk to their friends because if they are talking, they aren’t thinking and if they aren’t thinking, they aren’t writing. It is ok to brainstorm with friends as long as you stay on topic and you make sure not to spend all of your time that way.

    If a friend is distracting you, you can politely tell them that they are keeping you from writing or you can move to another spot in the room.

If you have any other excuses you have difficulty working past, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I have any Kindergarten advice that applies!

2 Comments Posted

  1. I’ve heard all of this advice a bajillion times and yet I somehow still can’t bring myself to schedule writing and make it happen. What is my problem? Am I broken? Should I be tested for ADHD?

  2. Cantaloupe: You might not have built up the stamina yet. It is difficult to sit down and write for long periods of time if you are not accustomed to it. Start at a small time amount that you can manage without anxiety kicking in and do it everyday (or on a regular schedule). The more often you do, the less crazy it will feel, and you will be able to increase the time you spend. If it still doesn’t work, try a smaller amount of time (broken up throughout the day if you need all of the time to meet a deadline). In the end, it might come back to the need for you to keep your subconscious fears in line and convince them that you are capable.

    Even on my fourth book, this is still an issue for me. I have been re-building my stamina since I have been on break. Yesterday I managed 1.5 chapters. Today I am shooting for 2. Yet if you had asked me to do that on June 10th, my subconscious would have boycotted the entire thing and I wouldn’t have written a word.

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