Friday, 6 May 2011

What I've Learned From Teaching

And after my grumpiness earlier in the week about a new term starting, I'm off this morning to teach the first session this term of my Friday class, the longest teaching job I've had - over ten years, who'd have thought it? Ever Friday morning (and afternoon, because the waiting list for the morning led a duplicate class in the afternoon) in term time for over ten years I've come up with a new class idea for thirty odd students to react to.

That's a lot of classes. A lot of ideas because I rarely duplicate a class unless asked to (or once because I came across a scribbled class note to myself and thought "that's a good idea, I'll use that in class", completely forgetting that I already had) and a lot of people putting their heads down and reacting to my commands to write something impossible.

And they do. I set these impossible tasks, they pull faces and then write something in response. They're so obedient! I hardly ever get a refusal, their creativity hitting a blank. There may be moans and groans, but they do it.

Usually when I call time they're less obedient. The pens scribble on. I call time again, and reluctantly people leave the world of their writing and come back to the class.

So, what do we learn?

Firstly, it doesn't take long to get sucked into writing. You just have to get started and it pulls you in.

Secondly, if you HAVE to - a new class looming means a new idea must be found, a teacher demands you write something - you will write.

We've been proving that every Friday for over ten years. We'll prove it again today. It's true for you too. Sit down, start writing, and in a few minutes it will come.


Karen said...

That's SO true. So many times I sit down and think 'I just can't do it today' then I finally start writing and find, actually, I can :o)

Jim Murdoch said...

I think one of the biggest regrets I have is when I was young luxuriating in the Romantic notion that I could only write if inspired believing this to be something beyond my control. I long ago rejected the Muse. Inspiration is a good idea and if you don’t have a good idea then any old idea will do. I’m working on a post about this at the moment which I started on April 30th and to provide an example I picked up the book that was sitting beside me, turned to page 30, found the 4th noun and immediately wrote a poem triggered by that word. So why am I not writing poems at the drop of a hat every day? It’s obviously not lack of ability. I think it’s finding new things to say about old subjects that’s the problem. How many books have been written about love? What more could there possibly be to say? Every time you sit down to write the fear of resorting to clich├ęs or of your characters behaving stereotypically must haunt you. And I’m the same. I have another post on the go about voyeurism (both from reader’s and a writer’s perspective) and do you know how many poems I have that talk about that subject? I was surprised myself when I did my search. What more could I possibly have to say on the subject? In a poem, nothing, but quite a lot in prose actually.

Jo said...

Yes, Sarah, sitting down and starting is the hardest bit of all! Once I've made myself write the first sentence or two, then I'm off and don't want to stop. It's amazing how the words stack up. I can write 500 words in the blink of an eye. It's getting my bum on that seat and opening the document that seems the most difficult thing of all some days. So much easier to open Safari and go to Facebook!

Sarah Duncan said...

Perhaps what we all really need is someone ordering us to write. Apparently Anthony Trollope had his valet wake him up 3 hours earlier every day and insist that he get up and write. Which is how he wrote all those novels as well as holding a full time government job as Postmaster General. We obviously all need valets.