Create a Writing Plan Before you Stop Writing

Whenever I hear Tricia Ebarvia (@triciaebarvia) speak, I always leave with a bag full of ideas. Those writing tips have formed the foundation of mini-lessons for my students and go to advice when I am drafting.

The following is one of the most helpful tips she shared and one that I return to day after day: Before you stop writing, jot down a few ideas about where you might go next.

After sharing this writing practice with my students, it became part of our daily routine. At the end of our quick writes, we recorded possible avenues that we might take next if we returned to that particular idea. Each period and each day, I would return to those ideas and continue writing pieces of my Defiance story.

Using this technique for my professional and creative writing, offers a starting place. My brain becomes activated when I read the ideas, bullets, sketches, brainstorming, outlining, etc. I have a place to pick back up where I left off. These nuggets of ideas help me combat writer’s block.

But, I realized something during quarantine. Usually I think about my writing and teaching as an act of rehearsal. What will my lessons be for the week? How will I model those lessons? What texts will I use? What am I noticing about my classroom practices, students, and research interests? Would any of those “noticings” work for a PAWLP blog post or journal article? What do I think about the texts that I am reading for grad school? How might I balance theory with literary criticism? How can I include my writing style and interests into a scholarly work?

Most of my rehearsing pre-quarantine and at the beginning of quarantine focused on professional writing. Now, nine weeks into a radically different way of life, I am spending more of my own time writing both professionally and creatively. Because my Defiance drafting has expanded from short bursts of writing (during class or a few minutes in the morning before I left for school), I am more immersed in the story.

Although this additional time to draft occurs when a grad school semester comes to an end and the summer break starts, Tricia’s advice to jot down a few ideas has been magnified. For the first time, I am thinking and rehearsing what will happen next to Techa. And, I want to return to her story so that I can tell her journey.

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