A miracle in teaching writing

In some respects, teaching writing is a lot like writing.

Sometimes when you write, you sit down in front of a blank piece of paper, or its digital equivalent, and the words just flow.

But mostly when you write, you sit down in front of a blank piece of paper and force yourself to do what needs to be done.

Then the next day, you sit down and force yourself to do what needs to be done.

And the day after that,

and the day after that,

and the day after that,

you sit down and force yourself to do what needs to be done.

And sometimes—not often, but sometimes—when you force yourself to do what needs to be done, a miracle happens: The words just flow.

Sunrise see at end of wooded road is metaphor for learning to write
After hours of darkness, the light dawns.

The same phenomenon occurs in teaching writing.

In teaching writing, you show up in front of blank students and force yourself to do what needs to be done.

You do that day after day after day and hope that a miracle will happen.

After weeks and weeks of showing up and doing what needs to be done, sometimes you’ll see someone who has struggled put all the elements of a piece of writing together in one spot, suddenly, without warning, put all the pieces together so they make sense.

The student has learned how to write.

Then the miracle happens.

The student who struggled so hard so long doesn’t jump up and down, yelling “Eureka!” and calling for somebody to break out the champagne.

The student just says, “Oh, yeah. Okay.”

The student can no longer imagine not being able to write.

That’s miraculous.

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