Friday, May 29, 2015

Gearing up for Teachers Write! & Friday Feedback - Summer 2015

Teachers Write! 

What it is, 

How it Works 

Plus some FAQ’s

What it Is

Teachers Write! is a virtual writing camp for teachers, librarians and other educators
who either:

          * want to become better writing teachers by “walking the walk" and doing their own writing for the benefit of their students,  or

          * aspire to write fiction or non-fiction works, and, thus, desire to become better writers for their own benefit and purpose.

I may have doctored this quote. 

How it Works

We like to think of Teachers Write as an all-you-can-eat buffet loaded with YOUR CHOICE of opportunities to learn about, improve, and share writing.

Each weekday -- except Wednesdays which are a Q&A day -- there are writing lessons, prompts and exercises posted on Kate’s, Jo’s, Gae’s and/or Jen’s blogs (and linked to on our Teachers Write facebook page which you should join NOW HERE (click that link!) if you are willing

These prompts are intended to illustrate, inspire and spark your creativity. You do not have to do them all, but you may. You may pick and choose those those exercises and prompts you connect with, that move you to try them out. 

The week unfolds primarily as follows:

Mini-Lesson Mondays – chat about the topic in the comments with the guest author

Monday Morning Warm Ups with Jo Knowles – just what they sound like. Monday morning gems to get you writing!

Tuesday Quick-Write – Kate or a guest author sharing prompts!

Wednesday Q & A – lots of guest authors chime in!

Thursday Quick Write  – Kate or a guest author sharing prompts!

Friday Feedback  – Gae or a guest author sharing a writing lesson and a brief excerpt of new writing, followed by an opportunity to post your own brief excerpt and give and get hands-on editorial feedback!

Saturdays - we're off, but Gae allows Friday overflow posts on her Friday Feedback blog through Saturday afternoon. Extra hours to be brave!

Sunday Check Ins with Jen Vincent - Reflect on the past week and share your plans for the upcoming week at Jen's blog. Lots of cheerleading and motivation!  

Some basic FAQs you should know about TW!

   I’m not a real writer. I’m not worthy. Can I participate? Should I just lurk? 

      There are “campers” of all different writing skill levels participating in Teachers Write! Some of us have been writing for years, have manuscripts in the works, are even close to querying agents. And others are about to force themselves to write something creative – anything creative – for the very first time ever or in years.

No worries, whatever level of skill you are, you are welcome and wanted, and will quickly find yourself jumping up levels as you dive in. Some of our newbies of Years One and Two are already in that querying phase! Others are still struggling in the early phases of finding voice and confidence in their writing. It’s OKAY. It’s all OKAY. As Teddy Roosevelt once said (and one of our awesome campers reminded me), “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Jump in and be brave at whatever level you are. We’re here to encourage and support you, and we’ll sit back and smile when you soon find yourself moving up levels by leaps and bounds.

      * I don't even know what a WIP is, so should I pack my bags and leave?

A WIP simply stands for a Work In Progress. Any work in progress. Though authors often use it in reference to a novel, here we use it to reference any work in progress: non-fiction essay, blog post, spark of a short story you are writing from a TW! prompt. Even a poem!

Wear your WIP proudly, and share bits of it when you’re feeling brave.

* But I don't have a WIP, so I guess I should go now?

Nope, we can't let you leave that easy! Got a WIP you're already working on? GREAT! 

BUT, you don't need a WIP. You can start one during Teachers Write or if you're not ready for that you may simply work on the writing exercises never knowing when one might blossom into a WIP or at least start germinating ideas for one. Or some people come just to work on blog posts and the like. Writing is writing. We don't care which kind.

    My inner critic has been stomping on my face in cleats. 
How do I share when I’m filled with doubt and self-loathing?

      This is all we can say to that: ask past campers! 

      We’re here to support and encourage, not tear down. Wait until you see how much fun it is! And until then, isn’t this a great feeling to remember when you ask those vulnerable students of yours to share in front of their peers?!

Sounds good! How much does it cost?

      Nada! Zero! Zilch! Or, you know, the cost of being brave and putting yourself out there. 

Having said that, if you are able, we do ask you to PLEASE preorder/buy each of the hosting authors' forthcoming books, to wit: my THE MEMORY OF THINGS, Kate's THE SEVENTH WISH,  and Jo's STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS, and at least one book by one of our many amazing guest authors (and as many more as you are able!). We also ask that you share our titles with your schools and local libraries, encourage your friends to read and put up reviews. Tweet our titles if you like them. All of these things truly help to keep our books in the limelight. And we love you for it.

I'm sold on it now! Where do we meet on the first day of camp?!

Because we're a virtual camp, we meet, or more accurately "catch up," various places on line. 

Each morning you will find the links to the day's exercises on the various facilitators' blogs: Kate's, Jo's, mine, and Jen's. We also tweet the links every day under the #teacherswrite hashtag on twitter and post them on our private Teachers Write Facebook page. Even if you don't have a Facebook page, think about creating one (it's free and easy) just for TW! even if that is the sole reason you ever use it. Facebook is a great place to share questions and concerns related to TW because it is easier than on twitter to follow a single conversation with multiple responses on one thread. Also, we're not limited as to how many characters we have to explain something!

Once you read and do the day's exercises (or, decide not to, and choose instead to work on something else) the other place we "meet" or "catch up" are the comments to those blogs. Sometimes we -- or the guest author -- invite you to share a snippet of your writing in the comments, other times we do not. If you're not specifically invited to share your writing in the comments, please don't as hundreds of snippets of writing can be really hard to get through and still find questions that need answering, etc. The exception to this is Friday Feedback where you are ALWAYS invited to share a snippet of your writing pursuant to the RULES.

Okay, but if I can't share my writing there on your blogs, where do I share it?!

Remember that you are first and foremost writing for yourself and that with hundreds of campers we can't read everyone's writing every day or we'd get none of our own done! 

If you want to share your writing and are not specifically invited to do so in a TW blog post, you should do that in your own blogposts on your own blogs, and then do things like share a link to your blog post on twitter using the #teacherswrite hashtag which lets other campers know you've written something you're interested in sharing, and leaves it up to them to find and read, or in emails with other campers and friends. 

Also, on Sunday check-ins, Jen often invites you to share links to your blogs! 

PLEASE DO NOT post links to your own blogs on our Facebook page because if everyone did that, no one would be able to find our links and other important posts of the day!

What you will find, I promise, as the weeks move forward is that, if you participate a lot, you will forge REAL (albeit virtual) relationships with other teacher-writer-campers and will end up sharing plenty with other campers who write in the same genre or teach in the same area, etc. Generally, a few weeks into the summer, Kate will put up a post specifically geared toward helping you all find and create critique groups (Here's a LINK to the one she did last year) and to our delight many of our campers are still involved with their groups they formed in years one, two and three!

* Okay, great. But I'm not a teacher or educator. 
Can I still participate?

Sure! The posts are all public, so anyone can write along with us! We just ask that you write on your own, rather than posting for critiques, etc. (except for Friday Feedback here on my blog, which is always open to the public!) because that way the groups stays a manageable size for our teachers and librarians. We love you, but that's who we really want to serve here because of the work they do with kids.

*I signed up but I didn't receive any confirmation. Do you secretly hate me and don't want me to join? 

No! We love you and are so excited to have you! Rest assured you are signed up and welcome. You don't need any confirmation - the sign up list is more for us to keep track of our campers and who we have joining us! See you there!

* Good try but I have so many more questions and you didn't answer them!

If I haven't answered your question yet, feel free to email me at the email I give you below. However, know this: The answer to most TW questions is "It's up to you!" This camp is what you make of it. It is not intended to stress you out, or make you feel as if you are falling short yet again in your teaching, writing or emotional life!! It is intended to support you and CHEER YOU ON! There is no good time to get started writing, yet so many people wait for that (like waiting for Godot). The time is NOW and we are here to help you, to provide inspiration on a daily basis (we hope!) and to encourage and instruct as you go along. Some people do every single exercise, some people merely use TW as a meeting place to make sure they are writing every day, and EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. Many of our campers have finished books they never thought they'd really start, and many tell us it has been life changing. 

We love our campers. This camp is for you! Now come on in! What (who?) are you waiting for? 

Hope this information helps! Still have questions? tweet to me @gaepol, comment to me here, or email me at 

      We can't wait to see our returning campers and meet our new ones,

      Gae (Kate, Jo & Jen).

1 comment:

  1. Met you briefly at NerdCamp LI last year. Now looking forward to "camping" with you, Gae!