A Writer

This simple, unassuming black leather notebook belongs to a writer. A writer who creates lyrical language in picture books. A writer who shares writers’ thoughts through professional books. A writer who pens a tale that keeps the reader entranced, whether it be fiction, autobiographical, or memoir. This writer’s notebook is a place to react to the world. It is a tool for living and writing.

Are you wondering who this might be? Before I reveal this writer, I will share a few snippets of my learning from this person last week.

  • What is non-negotiable in writing for this person? It does not matter the age of the student. These are critical elements to developing a writer.
  1. Time: a writer is someone who writes a lot, students must have that time.
  2. Choice: choice leads to voice.
  3. Response: Lucy Calkins said, “Children need readers, not correcters.” Respond to what the student is trying to say. Appreciate the intelligence behind the error.
  4. Environment: a safe environment that allows students to take a risk with their writing.
  • Teachers need to help students find a process for writing, not the process. All elements of the writing process are evident, but it may look different for each person.
  • This author spent time discussing the difference between boy writers and girl writers. Yes, boys do want to write about blood, fights, guts, and gore. As teachers of writers we need to figure out a way to allow boys that freedom of topic. Boys tend to write for each other, girls are more likely to be writing for the teacher. Another statement was made that had me doing more thinking. Girls tend to draw nouns, boys draw verbs. That is something I want to investigate more as I look at student work.

Those are a few of my take-aways after spending two days with this author. Have you figured out who this person is? Here he is signing a book.


This is from the inside cover of his writer’s notebook. Wouldn’t you just love to linger in the pages of this notebook?

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

18 thoughts on “A Writer

  1. Hells yes I would! What an awesome post! I loved the tease with the photo and then the lead up. The play between what the writer believes and what you learned from being around him. He’s spot on with the boy observations. I think him and Jon Scieszka have this extraordinary way of explaining to us (women) the alien minds of young, growing men. I’ve learned tremendously from both over the years because I think they paint a spectrum of the spirit of boys. That while there are go-to’s and preferences, there is a vast array of temperaments in action. I found in my first year that I had a knack for teaching boys more so than girls and no one was more surprised! These mentors guided me along the whole time I spent in the class with them. This post makes me giddy to get back to it soon! Thank you for posting. You have a way of working the photograph to unearth connections I didn’t know I even had buried in there and make me think more about the subjects in which you write. I’ve told you before but I’ll tell you again, you are a skilled photo-based writer.

  2. I’ve never heard Ralph speak, but I did win one of his books that he autographed for me. Someday, I want to attend a conference where he’s speaking.

  3. What a treat! I too am fascinated by the idea of what boys and girls draw. An interesting lens to consider. This is a quote worth framing: ” Appreciate the intelligence behind the error.” Love that. Thank you for sharing!!

  4. Interesting format for this post, Elsie. I enjoyed it. Oh, I wish I could have been with you. I am a HUGE Ralph Fletcher fan! Time to write, choice, immediate (or close to immediate) feedback, and a safe community – yes!

  5. Appreciate you sharing these nuggets of writing and teaching-writing wisdom. Reading a Ralph Fletcher book is one thing; getting to learn with him face to face sounds like a treat.

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