Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing! For Adults?


I am fortunate in having a creative family and creative friends. They challenge me to new ideas, as well as give freedom and grace to experiment, create, and mess up. Some adults may not have the freedom, motivation, or encouragement to be creative. Maybe structured lives, rigorous schedules, or social expectations squeeeeeeze it out? Unfortunate I say! Surely brain-stretching, expression, and innovation are just as relevant in adulthood as childhood?

So I asked one of my creative friends to share some encouragement in her area of expertise : writing. Amy Sheets is a 4th grade language arts teacher, as well as a MA, lecturer, and college professor off...Writing! Of course! Writing can be done anytime, by anyone (aka, no drawing skills required :), so it is the perfect course for building creative adulthood muscles.

Thanks for sharing this with us Amy!!!

My Red Umbrella by Carambatack

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places
and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it
lurches and tramps around.”

-Ann Lamott

Writing is a troublesome thing. It always sounds like a great—romantic, even—thing in which to take part. But then there’s the fact that at some point along the way of being a “writer,” one has to actually sit down and write at some point. For me, writing has been a fickle friend, but once I became a teacher of writing, I realized that I actually needed to be a writer. Otherwise, I would be like being a swim coach who seldom getsin the water. To do it well, I needed to dive in.

Retro Design - Car by Carambatack
But writing, once it gets going, can really be a wonderful activity. It can help you remember the details of a special moment. It can help to process difficult emotions or decisions. It can bring clarity to experiences from your past. It can also allow a complete divergence from reality. Writing even has a myriad of health benefits. Did you know that researchers have found that people who write about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding upsetting events have stronger immunity and visit their doctors half as often as those who write only about trivial events, let alone those who do not write regularly? The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that writing even reduces physical symptoms in patients with chronic illnesses.

In the past year I have challenged my students to think about the reasons we write. At first they looked at me like, “Uh…because you make us?” But once we started thinking

of reasons, they came up with some really beautiful ideas. One student said that you should write because maybe it will become a book you’ve always wanted to read.
Tree Print by Carambatack
Another said that it can be as exciting as being at bat with all the bases loaded (I don’t know that I ever got him to write about a topic other than baseball if you couldn’t guess).

I also worked to find the words of writers and teachers to add to our collection of reasons. One of my favorite quotes on this is from fellow writing teacher Ralph Fletcher, who says of keeping a writing notebook, “[It] can be a clearing in the forest of your life, a place where you can be alone and content as you play with outrage and wonder, details and gossip, language and dreams, plots and subplots, perceptions and small epiphanies.”

So, I challenge you to write today. Wonder at the world. Notice something about the world and the people around you. Allow yourself a “clearing in the forest of your life.”

And, just for a bonus quote:
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to
do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
~Sylvia Plath

---Amy Sheets

To contact Amy with questions or for writing sources, email makinghomehomemade@gmail. 

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