In the picture you can see the contents of the extra bag I took – my writer’s notebook, my Kindle so I could finish the current historical fiction novel I was reading, a YA book I was itching to start, a professional book I’m reviewing, and a book of poems by Mary Oliver. Quite a bit for such a short time! My to-do list was easy:
2. Write review
I accomplished most of that, certainly doing more reading and writing than I would have done at home. In this new place I was able to lose myself in a book for hours or read just a snippet if I wanted, jot down some thoughts or ideas, and open my mind to new possibilities. At home I might have had the same amount of time, but different tasks as well as my daily routines would have pulled me in other directions.
All of that got me thinking about the writer’s workshops we set up for our students. It certainly is important to establish routines so students have a predictable course of action and set of expectations. But every once in a while, why not let them go to the beach? Not literally, of course, but maybe mix things up a little. If a student is struggling for ideas, maybe suggest sitting on the sofa, or in a different part of the room. Maybe take the whole class for a walk outside to listen, think, and jot.
It’s all about environment, right? And a new environment may provide just the jump start, or reflection time, needed.