“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”
-H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Have you ever felt uninspired? Is your creativity on slow drive? Are you frustrated by these feelings when you try to write? Is writer's block real or self-induced?
Adults, as well as students, sometimes feel uninspired. Writing may not come readily, leading to frustration with the writing process. Cooper, a student in Holly Mueller's Gifted 5/6th Grade ELA Class, articulates what he feels in a post called "Why Didn't It Come To Me?
Today I have absolutely no ideas. In fact I basically broke down into tears when my dad told me that I had twenty minutes to do this and then he would stop me then and there. I racked my head for something, anything to write about, but none came. Why today? I have 15 minutes to finish this slice. Yet why am I even writing it. Maybe it is so I can learn a lesson. Maybe a well overdue one. Maybe there is a reason. Normally a slice comes to me. It could come at any time of day. I will make a mental picture of it in my head and then type it all out, everything I already had and more. Yet today nothing came to me. I waited for hours, until around 8 I realized I had to get this done. But I had nothing. Nothing had come to me during the day. No ideas. No ways to make anyone laugh, or cry, or be happy, or even just let me type my feelings. There were topics alright. Many of them. They were all different. I could of wrote about the Olympics, or the Hunger Games or my cat. Yet I wouldn't. Some days I am in the mood to write certain things. When I have an option to write, when it doesn't effect my grade, I just won't write certain things on certain days. I just won't. I know that if I try it won't be as fluid, or funny, or witty as I want it to be. Then I will get angry and will just go in circles, writing the same sentence over and over. Time after time.
I don't know why nothing stuck with me today. Maybe my brain just fell asleep, or needed to refresh. But I'm guessing it was teaching me a lesson. Coming into today I blocked out ideas because I thought they wouldn't be funny enough, or people would think of me as stupid or lame. Do you think people first created writing because they wanted people to read there post and comment. No, they created it for a purpose. To track information, to send messages, and voice your opinion. We write because we want to, not to please a crowd, not to rack up comments, and I need to recognize that this post is because I want to reach a goal and voice something important to me. So I don't really care how many comments I get. I wrote this because it was what I wanted to do. I suggest you do the same. Our world as of now is based around what our peers think. But don't be like some people write to be you.
Teacher Holly Mueller was inspired to write the following poem, Write Anyway, based on Cooper's post.
I don't have anything to say
and these pages are blank
and so is my mind
The pressure to write
is too much
and I'd rather do anything else
Writing is frustrating
and sometimes so terrible
I missed a Slice of Life
in the March Challenge
I'd rather give up now
My words come out
and nobody wants to read them
Practicing is not as fun
as getting in the game
No one is commenting on
what I write
I start out with nothing
but then ideas start to emerge
to the words on the page
something I wanted to say
see what happens when I
In the above poem, the writer moves from being frustrated to writing from the heart. As teachers, what can we do to help students be inspired to combat writer's block? Below are my tips to stir passion for writing:
- Use your senses to pause, listen, touch, and reflect on what is around you.
- Bring your camera on a nature walk. Take a photo of something, small, unusual, or beautiful.
- Use the photo as a prompt to see life differently or to comment on how this photo inspires you.
- Share your experiences.
- Read Wonder of the Day 1035, What Inspires You?, to find additional ways Wonderopolis recommends to bring back inspiration.
Using the above recommended ideas, create an interesting learning experience on writer's block for early middle school children.
Lesson Objective: As promising writers, students will reflect on the writing process and determine what is their best move to combat writer's block.
Big Idea: “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.” -H. Jackson Brown Jr.
ELA Learning Standards:
- RI5.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
- W5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- W5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
Speaking and Listening Standards
- SL.5.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Wonder of the Day Link: #1035, What Inspires You?
Warm Up / Anticipatory (5 minutes): Pose the following questions: Have you ever felt uninspired? Is your creativity on slow drive? Are you frustrated by these feelings when you try to write? Is writer's block real or self-induced? Have students partner to discuss one question. Ask partners to find another partnership to discuss their response to the same question. Decide on one unified response to the question to share during the debrief.
Investigation & New Learning: (45 minutes) Choose one of the first 4 tasks in the Tips to Stir Passion in Writing (above). Read the Wonder of the Day. Write individual posts on What Inspires You? using Connor's blog as a mentor text.
Check for Understanding/Formative Assessments (15 minutes) Each partnership will complete the first and second bullets during class time. The final reflection can be an extended assignment either as an exit ticket or an admit slip the next day.
- Partner Talk
- Glow (positive) and grow (wondering) remarks on work produced
- Student's final reflection on work produced
This is my 3rd post of my Wonder Bundle, a series of lessons for classroom literacy teachers, created for Wonderopolis's Wonder Ground. I thank Holly Mueller and Connor for providing the student work that will be used as mentor texts.