A writing challenge…

Don’t we all love challenges! I’ve recently signed up for the 100 Day Challenge (Instagram#100DayProject) where you choose something to “make” and repeat the making for 100 days straight. Since I love photography, have zillions of photos of the natural world, and I love the simple beauty of Haiku I am challenging myself to 100 days of seeing my natural word through 17 syllables and visually representing with photography. Each day I will upload my PhotoPoem to the 100 day instagram site, where I will also enjoy the creative challenges of others who join the project. I will upload some, as well, to my HaikuNorth blog site.

So…why this post? As I’ve commented in previous entries on this blog, I love the challenge of numbers. Some of my published writer’s notebook entries are number challenges…Home in 6 sentences…My life in 7 stories….Writing small in 50 words….20 observations….10 observations a day…6 word memoirs…The challenge of a number is exciting and setting a number limit helps one drive to cross the finish line.

Students love the challenge, as well. Years of reading the amazing writer’s notebooks of college students confirms this—-to a student, they grab the number challenge invitations. I think that creating a 100 day challenge in writing classrooms would not only be great fun, but writers would discover their voices, as well. If not 100 days, then lower the limit—make it a monthly challenge, or 20 days, or 50…whatever works.

Imagine the possibilities of writing on the same topic, or in the same genre each day—“making” something “anew” with words and visuals if desired, for a set number of days. The challenge lies in making 100 (or whatever the limit) of “something,” so why not with writing?? For several years when I taught 6th graders, we did the Moon Journal project (just google it—it is still ongoing everywhere and I did this back in the mid-90’s), for the month of October, where they kept a Moon Journal and each evening at relatively the same time, they went outdoors, viewed the moon, captured noticings about the qualities in the natural world—air, sounds, sky; they wrote in the journal and sketched what they saw. Many turned their words and sketches into watercolors. The Moon Journal project was much like the 100 Day Challenge—it was both finite and creative. And, they loved it and discovered that they could look at that same old moon each night and find new words with which to describe both what they saw and what they felt.

Writing is thinking. It is living, experiencing. Any way, any path you choose to get creative juices flowing and imaginations widening is a good thing.

I know the end of the school year is nearly here, but wouldn’t it be great to “challenge” your students to a summer project, to keep writing juices flowing?

The #100DayProject started yesterday, April 19th. Here are my posts for days 1 and 2. I’m already loving this!

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Day 1  A walk along the icy pier on a frigid day rewarded us with this beautiful image. Note the bird feathers ruffling in the wind. It was so cold!

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Day 2 The one clinging oak leaf on the bare-branched tree and near perfectly centered, as if posing for my camera. The bluest sky on this mid-April day as a backdrop to the beautiful trees–Spring gifts.

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What likes what, when Autumn comes…?

What likes What?  is an observational writing strategy that I have done for years (see my scratch what likes what notes on my writer’s notebook page)…In the novel Cold Mountain, Ruby tells Ada,  in trying to describe how she knows so much about plants, herbs, the natural world: Well, you just have to know what likes what…”...that line spoke to me. So, I have lists, still compiling them and some have become small works of art. This is a good observational suggestion for students–to notice what likes what throughout their day. If you have students do this exercise it will open their eyes to really noticing the world. The world is full of beauty–beauty in the simplest of sights and moments. Here are a few examples of my recent photo shots, to which I have added What likes What jots…Ask your students–What likes What when Autumn comes?

DSCN2792golden dune-lined path likes solitary companion

IMG_4621...shades-of-blue-lake like November day whitecaps

Dec 3 sun e…Autumn leaves like surprise of early snowfall

IMG_1117…yellow maple leaves like shadow and light

IMG_1137..November lake likes lingering kiss of sunset

IMG_1133…weathered dune pine likes view from above

IMG_1124…brown forest floor likes nature’s brilliant contrast

IMG_1709…downy woodpecker likes calm Autumn morning

..and this is why I write, why I sketch, why I play with words and images

…a quote from a mentor who inspires me. Her book, A Trail Through Leaves (a gift to me from a treasured friend) is one I revisit from time to time, and upon each visit am startled by wonderings and images new to me, though I have held this book closely for so many years…

 

 

“A long-running journal is an invaluable document, because it records something other than the time-and-goal-dominated anxiety that drives us through our days. We can tease out of it evolving evidence of sub-lives, parallel existences, omens of shifts that won’t be realized for decades, recurrences of themes glimpsed periodically through the years….The trail of words and pictures that I am leaving is more complete than most people’s, but it is still a trail of tips and ice bergs, little slices of light and color that are all I can capture of the big masses moving underneath. But threading through are moments of the ordinary-made-extraordinary by the simple act of choosing and isolating them.”

                                                                                                Hannah Hinchman

                                                                                           A Trail Through Leaves: The  Journal As a Path to Place

 

Unknown

 

The journey of a thought…

How many verbs can describe the journey of a thought…?

ponder

suppose

reckon

imagine

begin

start

recall

refresh

remember

forget

linger

dwell

….certainly there are more!

Teachers…when your students page through their writer’s notebooks, have them consider…how did this entry begin—did it begin with a “verb”…an “action” in the mind that triggered that entry? Could be a fun and educative activity.