• Brian Kelley

The Process


My ideas for writing travel from my eyes and ears to my brain. From my brain, they move to my mouth sometimes (if someone is nearby who understands what I am thinking). If no one is available to talk, my ideas go into a notebook in the form of rough hewn words--quick scratches of pencil against the paper. If an outside idea is being blended into my thinking (something I read perhaps) I tend to sketch it out so I might better understand it. I write again. Sometimes on paper. Sometimes on a digital document. Mostly on a digital document at this stage. I revise and revise and revise digitally.


I share the draft with someone closely connected to the thinking. Perhaps a co-author. Perhaps a colleague. If I am fortunate enough to receive feedback (it is a huge request to ask someone to read your work), I apply what I hear. Maybe not right away on paper. But I think about it. I turn it around and around like a small, smooth stone in a child's hands.


And then I make the changes that make sense to me and what I am discovering what I am trying to say on paper. And this is the key--I don't plan writing. I write writing. I am an over-writer. I write to think. YA author Gary Schmidt burns his drafts as he moves forward. He sticks them right in the wood stove like he is burning the boats on the beach and committing himself to attacking newly revealed territories,


At a stage that feels right (I can't define it any better than that) I print and I revise on paper with a paper. Without this step (as with any of the other stages), the writing stops. I walk away from a lot of pieces at this stage. But if I am energized and confident enough (brave enough) to keep going, I cross out, circle, scribble.


I go back to the digital document to revise.


More writing leaks out.


Trickles of ideas.


Clearer ideas.


Small additions.


One big idea


cinched


to


another.




Do we allow for this kind of time...do we share the magic that happens as ideas move from one destination to the next...with our students? Or do we focus solely on the destination?


Or have we, do we, can we, will we make it about the journey and the inn?



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