“Everyone has a book inside of them, but it doesn’t do any good until you pry it out.” – Jodi Picoult
That is the age-old adage that many educational professionals have pondered over the years. In fact, I believe that to be true, based on my own start in the world of professional writing for publication. As a young teacher, I submitted an article called, “The 4th Reasoning,” based on my passion for teaching thinking skills in my first grade classroom. The editor of the magazine mentioned he was always looking for practical ideas from teachers. He asked me if I wanted to turn the article into a featured monthly column of the same title. Of course, I jumped at the chance and writing became a professional learning tool for me throughout my career.
The professional learning embedded in a writing project targeted to specific, educational newsletters, blogs and journals often leads to that first book. Why? Because there is a magic that happens when you decide to write about a professional piece that you have perfected, on-the-job, as leaders and teachers. Further, there is a depth of personal understanding that evolves as the writing unfolds. As you search for words of clarity, examples of highlighted elements, and illustrations to “show, not tell,” a more profound awareness heightens, insights appear and “aha moments” are not that unusual. In fact, by putting ideas into writing, the ideas take shape in unexpected ways, and the illumination of those first thoughts becomes far weightier than the glimmer of ideas you stated with. That is the power of the written word and interestingly, when I look at my own long and varied career as student teacher, teacher, administrator, author, consultant and mentor, I realize that so many of my “standby tactics,” my tried and true practices and the fail-safe strategies I employ over and over again, have come from some wonderful pieces I came across that were written by another professional in the field.
What to write? What you know. How? Write what you say. Teaching is verbal and what we say leads to what we write. In act, when people ask me how I come up with a new idea, I tell them, “…in my workshops”. Spontaneous ideas come to me as I’m teaching and as I continue to try them, the ideas evolve and before you know it, I’m telling myself, “I think I have a new blog or maybe an article (that continues to expand and may eventually turn into a book).”
Think about it! Writing to publish could be the beginning of the next chapter in your professional career or maybe the next goal for your professional growth plan. It is a known fact that teachers and principals respect their peers and love learning from their colleagues. They know the information is presented with a practical perspective and an eye on what is relevant. Publishers scout for practitioners who want to write about their professional challenges and successes. It’s a challenging goal and a chance to break into the publishing world as a knowing educator.
In closing, I want to share a quote I give to all the writers I have edited, co-authored with, coached and mentored: James Bellanca, Art Costa, Kay Burke, R. Bruce Williams, Valerie Gregory, Robert Sternberg, Carolyn Chapman, Alan November, Ken O’Conner, Gayle Gregory, Gene Kerns, Brian Pete, Rebecca Stinson, and years ago, even Robert Sternberg, who co-authored a little Skylight book on the “Successful Intelligence” (2000).
My Favorite “Post-it Note” for Aspiring Writers:
The Ferret Chronicles (Excerpt)
“Words on paper”, he told himself.
“Words in the air don’t matter.
If I don’t have words on paper I’m not a writer.
I’m a talker!
No words on paper,
How can I improve a sentence?
No words on paper,
What’s to work with,
What’s to send to the publisher, Budgeron?”
“So simple. No mystery. Words on paper!”
Ready to try writing for publication? Submit to Corwin Connect!
Bach, R. 2002 p.16-17. The Ferret Chronicles: Writers Chasing the Muse
Fogarty, R. 2010. Educators Writing for Publication. Chicago, IL: Robin Fogarty & Associates From Staff Room to Classroom Conference.
Sternberg, R. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2000): Teaching for successful intelligence. Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight.