“Want to write? First, put your pen down.”

I responded to a teacher who suggested that I write about writing, to help her students:

Thank you for the suggestion! I’ve never tried to describe this in an email.

I have always felt I had to do it in person, to demonstrate in in order to get mutual understanding. So, here goes, responding to your suggestion to try this via email. I may not succeed, OK?

[It’s OK if I make mistakes; that’s how I learn.] – Classroom “TRUTH SIGN”
From page 51 of Dr. Harmin’s book entitled STRATEGIES TO INSPIRE ACTIVE LEARNING: Complete Handbook. (Published 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2002.)

Here is what I say to an individual student, or a class, with whom I am working:

“OK, now I would like you to think about writing this story, essay [whatever].

“Remember, the first thing you do when you are going to write on the blank page in front of you, is to lay down your pen. Yes, whenever you have to write anything like this, first lay down your pen.

“Now, close your eyes and make a mental movie about what you are thinking of writing. If you don’t know yet what you are going to write about, close you eyes and just let mental pictures come to you of various things until you spot a picture that is interesting or appealing to you in some way, or that you like, and then make a mental movie about that.

“How to make a mental movie? Well, to keep it interesting, make it in color (say on your pretend screen out in front of you, out in front of your closed eyes, a comfortable distance from you). Make the screen farther away and huge if you wish, so you can see it clearly, or make it smaller and closer so you can still see it clearly. Whatever you like.

“If you know what you want to write about, make a mental movie of that. Have fun with this and remember that you can change it any way you want. It’s your movie… you’re the director… and you can create any kind of movie you want.

“Make it simple to start. It needs 3 parts.

“Have a beginning, a middle, and an end to your movie.

“Have fun with this. There is no limit to your imagination here.

“You could even add a sound track to make it more interesting, right?

“Do the sound track inside your head, just like the color movie, so your are
not bothering anyone else! :o)

“When you’ve done the beginning, the middle, and the end of your movie,
rewind it to the beginning, and watch it to see how it goes. If you like it,
rewind again, open your eyes, pick up your pen, and start writing out on
paper what you are seeing in your movie.

“Don’t try to remember everything. Just watch a little bit of the movie, write
a little of what you are seeing, watch a little bit more, write a little bit more,
and so on.

“That’s right, I am glad to see you taking the time to have fun creating
your movie before you write anything down on paper.

“If you don’t like the beginning of your movie, change it, rewind and play
it to see how it looks now, enjoying how this new beginning fits in with
your middle and your end.

“If you don’t like the middle of your movie, rewind and create a new middle.
Same for the end.

“OK, so let’s see how much fun we can all have with this!

“Hey, you can even star in your own movie if you want to. It’s your movie!

“You can always fix your movie up by rewinding and changing it any way
you like. It’s a lot easier than trying to do a re-write on paper, because you
can fix the movie very quickly in your mind.

“Your brain can work a lot faster than your hand and pen.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“OK, let’s see how this went for you? Anybody want to stand and read their
story to us? Or maybe you just want to stand and close your eyes and play
your movie, and tell us out loud what you are seeing?”
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

[To the teacher] This gives you some ideas about how to have fun with this
and take the pain out of “sitting there with pen in hand, staring off into space,
sighing, and so on….” Works like a charm once you and the students get the
hang of it. Initially you can plan on making lots of mistakes with this–both you
and the students.

[“It’s OK if we make mistakes in this classroom; that’s the way we learn.” ]

One of Dr. Harmin’s “TRUTH SIGNS,” in his book STRATEGIES TO INSPIRE ACTIVE LEARNING, page 51.

All respect, fun and blessings,

Doc Meek

South Jordan, Utah, USA; Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

One Response to ““Want to write? First, put your pen down.””

  • Uinise Langi:

    This is wonderful suggestions. I’m giving an in-class writing assignment to my students next week as part of their final exams. I’m going to try this. This sounds very interesting and intriguing. I’m sure my students will love this approach. Thank you!

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