Although it seems obvious to me that in order to be a good writing instructor, you must also be a good and practicing writer yourself. Writing is a process that only improves with practice. It seems to me that there's become a big disconnect between what writing instruction is now, and what is truly required for good writing.
Writing in the real world does not tend to follow the nice neat linear path that we like to teach. As we find ways as teachers to express ourselves through writing, we will start to recognize that writing can form in many different ways. We have a tendency to want to teach the specific step-by-step process, yet for me as a writer, it doesn't always fit in that nice little mold. It's not that I don't use many of the steps that we teach, but to be quite honest I don't brainstorm, then create a web, outline, create a rough draft, and revise and edit for every piece of writing that I do. In fact other than demonstrating this for my students I don't recall going through this entire process for any piece of writing.
When I suggest that we as teachers make sure that we are writing if we would like to continue to teach writing, I'm not suggesting that everybody try to publish a book or create a blog. Are writing does not always have to be published, in fact keeping a daily journal, or just trying to be a little more descriptive with our meeting notes might be enough. We simply need to be using our creative abilities in the process of organizing her thoughts on paper.
One of the biggest things that I began to realize, is that as I write I spend a lot more time sitting and thinking about what I will write than I do writing. I've gotten pretty frustrated that students in the past for doing the same thing. I don't want them to waste their time, and unfortunately rather than gently discussing ideas, or giving them time, I have just told them to get busy. There's a difficult balance in this because we all have students who will set the whole time and do nothing, but we need to be careful to allow her students that do try to have the time they need to be effective in their writing.
Let us as writing teachers seek out ways to write more so that we can improve our own writing instruction. Even if it's 15 minutes a day, it could make a big difference in our writing instruction.
Over the next few weeks I will be continuing to write articles to help us make our writing instruction better. This is the first of approximately 10 articles.