Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On Bad Writing

This morning as I got ready for our day with the Columbus Area Writing Project I was reminded of the hard work we ask students to do every day.  I've appreciated having time to write each day and know this is a habit I need to hold onto after we finish our days in the project.

Knowing the day goes better if I start with a plan before I arrive, I searched for what I wanted to write.  The conversation with myself wasn't going well.

"I've written everything I can think of in the last two weeks," I commiserated.

"How will I think of something?" I whined.

"How many more days do I left?" I wondered.

During the school year, I sit down most every Saturday morning to put words in a space.  Sometimes during the week I manage a few other writing moments, but Saturday is really my writing day.  As I move into summer my writing picks up a bit, but I still choose my moments.  If I am feeling it, I sit down.  If I'm not, I don't.  (I know the problem with this, but I might as well be honest.)

Today, however, I need something to write about.

One of the best things about going through the writing project is I'm being reminded of the hard work we ask students to do every day.



As I got ready, I thought about the pieces I had completed.  Having the time each day makes me write, but it isn't always easy.  I'm sure I have some writing which would have slipped past me without making it to a page if I hadn't been given the time to sit down.  However, I also have a lot of bad writing.  A LOT of bad writing.  In two weeks, I've written a piece or two that has some possibility.  I've managed a sentence or two that might make me pause, but mostly I have a lot of bad writing.

My experience has me thinking about the expectations we have of our students.  Are they realistic?  Do real writers produce nothing but writing that gets better each day?  I doubt it.  I'll bet authors have a lot of bad writing too.  Do we allow students the time for bad writing?  Do we expect every piece to be better than the last one or do we make room for the messiness?  So when the school year begins I'll be thinking a bit more about bad writing and its significance in mining the gems that could become powerful pieces of writing.


  1. Cathy I love this post! Writing is really hard for me and writing everyday would be excruciating. I hadn't given much thought to the acceptance and expectation that students would produce bad writing. I always love your honesty and reflection. I'll be thinking about this more.

  2. Great thoughts! We must remember this!