Tomorrow, we begin another week of Studio summer sessions at Daemen. When writers and teachers first join us, some assume that our program is much like a day-camp for writers. It isn’t until they begin connecting with others and immersing themselves in their collaborative and individual projects that they begin to realize how very different we are.
At the end of last week, when I sat down with writers and their parents to listen carefully as they spoke about all that they learned, what they wanted to accomplish as writers in the year ahead, and what kind of support they needed in order to get there, I received quite an education. Here are just a few of the thoughtful reflections some of them shared:
“The most important thing I’ve begun understanding as a writer is that I need to select more courageous topics. If I’m able to do that, I think I can really hook an audience. I need to write about things I care about and things I know about.”
“I’ve really discovered that I do much better writing when I define my own topics.”
“I’m realizing that in order to write well, I need to do some research not only about the genre I’m picking, but even the characters I want to include in my story. One of my characters has a parent who has died, and this hasn’t happened to me. I’ve been doing a lot of research this week, learning more about what that experience might be like.”
“Learning more about the Dispositions of Practice and getting concrete strategies for how I can rely on them as a writer has helped me a TON. Now I know that if I want to persevere in writing my novel, I should expect that I might get bored with my topic or run out of ideas. This isn’t a bad thing. It happens to everyone! I need to make sure that my life outside of writing stays interesting, because that will “fill me up” creatively. I can also “write through it” when I get bored and know that eventually, writing will feel good again. And I can always bring my writing to Studio in October and rely on everyone here to help me think about things differently or give me new ideas. I can also post on the ning!”
“We’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on our work here this week. I can’t believe how this has changed me as a writer. I have set some personal goals to do this more.”
“Doing peer-review really helps me develop my expertise. It also gives me a place where I can share it and help other people.”
“In order for our community to be great, we need to help each other become better writers and grow in how we use the dispositions too. It’s not just about getting better for our own selves.”
“Using the rubrics for writer’s craft gave me the words I needed when I was asked to give feedback to another writer. I might not need to use them forever, but now at least I really think I’m getting to know what writer’s craft is and how to get better at it. I really like the rubrics.”
“My goal for our October session isn’t to get my draft done. I don’t really care if it’s done. I want to keep improving it and revising it over and over to make it better. I want it to be really good!
Each of these remarks made me smile. Some truly exciting discoveries took place last week, and watching this group of people–teachers and students–come together in the way that they have left me a bit misty more than once. My favorite comment was this one, though:
“We’re NOT a camp….we’re a community. And that’s different.”