Geez Louise. The more I learn about writing, the more overwhelmed I get. With rules like “Do this” and “Don’t do that,” a gal could get flabbergasted and frustrated before she gets started.
Here are a couple of so-called rules that I’m thinking about this afternoon.
Write something people want to read.
Make it interesting.
Write something people want to read. A few weeks ago I finished Liz Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, and her protagonist wrote books on bryology. That’s right, bryology, the study of mosses. Alma Whittaker, the heroine, was passionate about the variety and growth patterns of the many species of mosses, but she probably didn’t have that big a readership for her books. Did she care? Not really.
Make it interesting. I have no idea how interesting Alma’s bryology books were, but Liz Gilbert’s treatment of the obscure subject was fascinating. Not only do I find myself stopping to examine mosses on my daily walks, but occasionally I snap pictures of them too. Strong, slow-growing, and ever-evolving, mosses can teach us quite a bit. Slow and steady wins the race and all that.
After vacillating between a few ideas, I’ve decided to write a slim volume about teaching. Yesterday a friend asked point blank who would read such a book. Whether anyone reads it or not, I still feel compelled to write some basic guidelines gleaned from experience and interweave some stories, tips from colleagues and advice from students. Including the latter makes perfect sense to me since that’s the audience teachers are trying to reach.
I’m going to write something teachers will want to read, something unlike education textbooks with a lot of dry dogma. While much of what I include might be the “same old/same old,” I hope to infuse it with vivacity and evoke interest. There are plenty of texts that promise to help in identifying opportunities for utilizing instructional technology, elicit peer feedback, and adopt active learning strategies in the classroom, but they need more heart.
I want to write a book that people will want to read, one with a heart.
Earlier today, one of my friends sent me a picture of a heart drawn in the sand. Getting her text with the accompanying photo was the perfect motivator. Plus, her message encompassed what my friends were saying between the lines yesterday. Whether working in recruitment, admissions, academic advisement, retention, or instruction, genuine concern and caring are important elements to success.
Here’s her message. “Thought about you when I saw this heart on the beach. The title of your new book for teachers should be It’s All About the Heart. I saw a presentation yesterday, and they gave out rulers and talked about how we can retain more students if we just show we care more.”
She gets it. I’ve already texted her back asking for the name of the presenter(s) so that I can request some information.
Everyone reading this has had a few teachers. In your opinion, what’s a piece of advice you wish they all knew and practiced? Does caring about students matter? Does knowing that a teacher cares about your success influence your motivation?