So, I haven’t blogged in a while. But I’ve been writing more frequently than I have in my entire life. I’m participating in the Summer Institute of the Southern Colorado Writing Project, and I’ve discovered something wonderful: when I write more, I write better. It’s like I have a set of writing muscles in my mind that were pretty limp and flabby until I started grad school. A few months of cranking out academic papers started the shaping-up process, but it was more like a gentle exercise regimen with short bursts of exertion.
The past three weeks have been writing boot camp.
I’m creating pieces in multiple genres at least twice a day, developing and revising a 70 minute presentation for teachers of writing, and working on fiction and memoir with my writing group. The Summer Institute directors and coaches are like the personal trainers of the writing world; they are (figuratively speaking) in your face pushing you beyond your limit. My writing muscles have been flexed, worked, toned, and sculpted to the best condition of my life; sadly, I can’t say the same for my abs or thighs. Not only is writing twice as easy, it’s twice as enjoyable because I’m not belaboring every word. When a friend of mine asked me to write a piece for her fashion blog, it was weeks before I got around to writing it. Not only was my schedule overflowing, I found when I sat down to write it yesterday that I had been secretly dreading the task because of the time and frustration it would require. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the words came quickly and easily to me, and rather than belaboring the piece for three or four hours, which is common for me, I had cranked it out in about 50 minutes.
This has been a personal and professional epiphany. Personally, it’s changed my whole outlook on the writing process and how I view myself as a writer. Professionally, it’s made me realize that I’m not assigning nearly enough writing. This fall, my poor students won’t know what hit them. They will be writing every day. They will be writing far more than I can ever grade–and that’s okay. They will be sharing their writing in small groups, with the whole class, and in online forums. I will be their Jillian Michaels, and we will spend many hours on the writing treadmill and lifting the weights of words. They’ll be bursting with ideas, their craft will be refined, and if I have anything to do with it, we’ll all be developing some serious write-itude.