Starting Over

I am a notebooker. I proudly wear that title.

Almost everywhere I go, my notebook goes with me. I’m on notebook number 72ish. (Notebooks keep popping up after I’ve counted, so that’s frustrating. I’m not good with numbers.) I just started writing in this notebook on March 13th.

Starting a new notebook can be overwhelming, even for me. It occurred to me as the words came tumbling onto the page a couple of days ago,

After notebooking for so long, I know what I like in a notebook. I prefer blank pages and a hardbound book. My favorite notebooks to write in, come from Barnes and Noble, but I love to try new kinds…or do I?

Number 72 is from Michaels…

Different kind of cover, rounded edges to the pages…I know it sounds like those are unimportant details, but they aren’t. They matter. When I start a new notebook, it’s like starting a new relationship. I pour my heart into the words that cover those pages. It’s risky to start over. I looked back through my last two notebooks and this is a pattern…

It’s the beginning. Somehow, these words feel more important…bigger. Maybe that’s what stops lots of people.

…the pressure of being perfect. Hmmm, well now I have something to think about. I’m doing lots of writing about notebooks and this new notebook seems to be teaching me some new lessons. My students continue to teach me lessons about my own notebook practice. They love my writing. Last week they told me how beautiful it is. When I look at my writing, I see messy and mistakes. I yearn to have beautiful penmanship and make my “e”s better and on and on. It proves to me that we all see our own work with such a critical eye.

Here’s a peek into the covers and title pages of my last three notebooks… 

Number #70
September, 2016 – December, 2016

Number #71
January, 2017 – March, 2017

Number #72
March, 2017 –

I Am a Writer. Right?

What is a writer? Are you a writer? Am I? So many teachers struggle with declaring themselves writers…struggle with saying, “I am a writer.” Here’s my idea of a writer…

A writer shows up to the page regularly.

A writer uses words to express and communicate.

A writer uses words to create new worlds or to make sense of this one.

A writer struggles through revision.

A writer jots.

A writer creates lists and copies quotes.

A writer takes risks and shares words with others.

A writer carries a notebook and uses it.

I believe a writer is someone who writes.

I believe a writer is someone who struggles with words and ideas.

I believe a writer must write to communicate.

I believe a writer shares some writing with an audience outside of themselves.

I believe a writer reflects and thinks through their words.

I believe a writer practices the craft regularly. 

You do not have to be published to call yourself a writer.

You do not have to be writing a book to call yourself a writer.

You need to show up.

Get words on paper.

You need to do this regularly.

Writing is thinking. The more you write, the more you think.

Writing helps me clarify my thoughts before I share them out.

Writing is reflection.

Writing creates empathy.

Your students need you to write.

Are you a writer? Yes.

Say it out loud.

Repeat after me, “I am a writer.”


Happy National Day on Writing

Made with Padlet


I’ve been writing since I was nine years old. I started writing because I am a rule follower. Writing was assigned in school. I wrote what the teacher wanted to read. At nine, my mom bought me my first notebook. This is where the fun began. Now, my audience was me. I didn’t have to answer someone else’s question or prompt. Still, my writing followed a traditional diary format. Each day I wrote about my day and not much more. I wrote poetry too. As I grew, I wrote about my dreams.

College was when my writing helped me figure out problems. I’d write when I was lonely. I’d write when I was confused. Writing always helped me feel better. I remained my only audience. No one else got to see those words.

As an adult, I took more risks with my writing. I tried more poetry and a little bit of fiction. Writing became a friend…ever by my side. I brought my writing, my notebook, with me wherever I went. I never felt alone again. Writing always had my back.

The Northern Virginia Writing Project changed me as a writer. This group gave me an audience…encouragement…and courage to share my story. The NVWP showed me that I had a story to tell and nudged me to write. For the last ten years, I’ve continued to write but now I write for more than just me. I blog. I write for my students. I share my writing.

Why do I write? I must. I have a story to tell. Writing forces me to reflect, which in turn helps me grow as a teacher and as a person. Writing helps me untangle life. Writing gives me time to observe things happening around me through my words. Writing allows me to express myself.

Three years ago during a Twitter chat, I read a tweet by Penny Kittle that sparked the creation of my personal blog…

This is why I write. Please take a moment and celebrate the National Day on Writing, October 20th! #WhyIWrite

Why do you write?