Writing Well, and the Readers Will Follow by Jennifer Wolfe
~:: by Jennifer Wolfe of MamaWolfe ::~
For me, words have always held a visceral power. As a little girl plowing through SRA books, lying in the tall grass or under the bedcovers with a flashlight, I lost myself in other people’s lives. Naturally, I blissfully completed an English major in college, never complaining about the ominous reading lists or endless literary analysis papers I composed each semester. I felt I had found my place.
Teaching English was like second nature. I loved the children’s eyes as they discovered a love of books and confidence in themselves as writers. After 20 years, however, I suddenly realized that although teaching writing still fulfilled me, I was disingenuous; I was not a writer myself. I still sporadically read books for pleasure and journaled with some regularity, but I did not write.
And so, one day in June of 2011, I started a blog. I had no idea what I was doing; I only knew that it felt right. Writing, for me, is a way to push myself forward. Its cathartic nature had always appealed to me, but the idea of someone reading it was terrifying. As I tentatively pushed ‘publish’ for the first time, I knew that there was no turning back. I would write, people would read, and I could share myself with the world through my words. It was a huge step forward.
I approached blogging much as I do other things: feet first, working out a system as I go. Finding comfort in routine, I quickly realized that I needed to figure out how to start each essay and decided this: just write it. I discovered topics were everywhere: the news, snippets of overheard conversations, an image, a photograph, a quote, a memory all became fodder for the next post. I learned that these starting places were not necessarily ending places, but merely the jumping off point. If I could think about an idea, scribble some associations, some words, and think about why the idea really appealed to me, I could come up with an essay.
Along my teaching path, I also stumbled into yearbook design, which is particularly helpful when creating an appealing blog. I carried my camera everywhere, and began to look through the lens, not just to please myself, but with an aim to capture a story. I created photo files and filled them with images I took myself, as well as photos from Pinterest and video clips that inspire me. The writing itself is critically important, but if readers are not interested and hooked by my design I knew I wouldn’t have readers in the first place. Quotes from favorite authors and special sayings found themselves in another folder, waiting for just the right moment in my life to inspire another post.
The power of language is not lost on me. Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are crucial-I’m an English teacher, remember-but also it shows respect for the reader. I try to use an authentic voice, and write from inside myself. As I continue to blog, I keep focused on the message I’m sharing with my readers. What is important to me in my posts is to create a sense of personal satisfaction and pride in what I create, not the number of readers. If I believe in what I’m writing, the readers will come.
Writing has become a passion, but in a different way than I thought it would. I still find myself lost in other people’s lives and stories, and blissfully type away at early hours of the day. What’s new for me is the way writing has allowed me to view the world; I look at each person, each experience, and every new location with curiosity, and wonder what story will unfold.
ABOUT JENNIFER: When not teaching or mothering her tween and teen, Jennifer Wolfe enjoys writing, blogging, volunteering, traveling, skiing and reading. A native Californian, she enjoys the beach as well as the mountains for relaxation.
CONTINUE READING IN THE FAMILY ROOM