I’ve been thinking about what it means to write for an audience. Last night as my mind wandered as I cooked, I had some Big Thoughts I wanted to process. An upshot of writing more now is that I really wanted to turn to writing to process them. I really believe that generating language around our ideas allows us to form them more fully, and these were the kind of Big Thoughts I wasn’t interested in talking through.
“Aha!” I thought. “Tomorrow is SOL day! Perfect timing!” And then I froze. There was no way that I wanted these Big Thoughts put before anyone else’s eyes. I already had an audience for this writing after all: me. Of course – this is why blogs and journals are distincitly different forms.
This got me thinking about the students in our classrooms and when they have the opportunity to write just for themselves. Throughout our days, and in our writing workshops, we ask our students to write to process their thinking across content areas – and we make that public. In our writing workshops, sometimes this writing is even deeply personal, as students construct essays and narratives they hold close to their hearts – but the expectation is that this (largely) public. Of course, many teachers allow students to fold over pages or whatnot to flag sometihng as private, but our emphasis during this writing time is still on working on somethign as a writer, on acquiring transferrable writing skills.
How, then, do we tell kids – sometimes, you just need to think through the things that are sitting heavy on your heart? Just write.