My Journey as a Writer

If you follow me on Twitter or read my blog you may have noticed I enjoy finding great images to represent my thoughts. I typically find my photos on Pixabay or Unsplash since I know they are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons. But today’s photo is one of my own with a story to tell.

The picture above isn’t very appealing. Just a bunch of stuck tumbleweeds. Boring, right?

Well, for me there is great significance. The story goes back decades and the tumbleweed represent a journey of change in mindset. I write today to reflect on my own personal growth. Maybe my story will make an impact for someone else.

I started this blog in 2010 as a way to reflect, share ideas in the educational arena, and continue to overcome my fixed mindset when it came to the act of writing. Writing in Junior High and High School was a dreaded chore. Time after time my papers returned full of red marks and a poor grade. I gave up trying, which certainly didn’t increase my skills.

I started college very unprepared when it came to writing. I distinctly remember asking friends to help me proofread papers prior to handing. I didn’t want the cycle to return.  You know the one – giving something your all only to feel defeated upon receiving a poor grade or marked with errors with no explanation. Unfortunately that method didn’t help much. A sentence I used in one piece haunted me for decades.

I wrote, “The tumble weeds were tumbling.”

I can’t even remember what the piece was about. It must have been some form of a narrative. My seemingly lack of creativity lead to a lifetime of a fixed mindset when it came to writing. The phrase was often “laughed at” among my friends – and I’ve learned to laugh with them over time.

As an educator I knew I didn’t want to pass my fear of writing onto my students. With that in mind I set out to not only change their futures, but mine.

  • I added writer’s workshop approaches to my 4th and 5th grade classrooms so my students wouldn’t have the same thoughts about writing as I did. I devoured anything from Lucy Calkins, Regie Routman and Nancy Atwell! Participating WITH my students gave me a chance to write. I spoke of my reluctance at times and how I was overcoming it. Through my modeling and their feedback, I began to feel like a writer. My writer’s mindset was changing.
  • I took the Iowa Writer’s Project – a summer institute devoted equally to exploring professional insight into uses of writing for learning across the curriculum and the individual’s own writing experience. I actually gave some of my writing as gifts! My writer’s mindset was changing.
  • I made the decision (with encouragement from a mentor) to pursue my Masters, something I put off for a long time. Why? You guessed it, there was a lot of writing involved!  I was relieved none of my papers were “bleed upon” and I graduated with a 4.0! My writer’s mindset grew to new heights.
  • My Master’s experience gave me the courage to continue my education to earn my PK-12 Administrative endorsement! My program was project based and I was always writing! I was recognized by my instructors as having a knack for conveying my thoughts. Me? WOW! That did it, writing was now a part of me.
  • After all my course work, I was at a loss. I actually missed writing. My mindset had shifted! I decided to start this blog on August 9, 2010. It has been a constant source of reflection and opportunity to stretch my writing! Blogging is something I highly recommend for all educators. How can we teach writing (or reading – or anything else for that matter) without being fully emerged as a learner? Teaching is not about telling, it is about involving – and that means both students and teacher!
  • My blog led to being asked to write guest posts! What a thrill to be recognized for my writing! A few recent posts include Literacy Partnerships for Families with ELs, Blogging to Enhance Your Professional Practiceand two posts for the ClassFlow Blog as a ClassFlow Ambassador.

All of this leads me to today! I’m giddy with excitement! I just noticed that the book I co-wrote with friends Jessica Johnson and Shira Leibowitz has been added to the ASCD and Amazon book stores for pre-order. We are so excited to see The Coach Approach to School Leadership: Leading Teachers to Higher Levels of Effectiveness about ready to be released on May 26, 2017!

My writing journey has many twists, turns and bumps. I have been completely stalled and through guidance from others and looking inward, I found the true sense of flow as described by Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi. I am now at peace when I write. Does it always come easily? Of course not.

A recent trip to the California desert, to visit my nephew, gave me my first opportunity to observe tumbleweed in action and at rest (as pictured above.) I concluded that I am a tumbleweed writer. At rest, I sometimes struggle to find my momentum, yet it is also a time to just collect my thoughts. Rather than feel defeated, I await the wind to forge ahead. At rest I rehearse ideas in my mind. I send myself Voxer messages with wording ideas. I scribble in notepads waiting for something to take shape.  When my wind (aka flow) picks up, I do much more than tumble! At times my words dance across my screen (I do my best writing on the computer). Sometimes I rush too fast and other times I linger on a sentence or paragraph for quite some time. If I can’t find the right wording, I bounce from topic to topic/project to project. And just like tumbleweeds, I aim to plant seeds through my writing. Words that I hope inspire others to shine.

I may be the only person that sees my writing journey in tumbleweeds, but I doubt my fear of writing is uncommon. If you are a reluctant writer I encourage you to find ways to express yourself. The world is your stage and your VOICE is needed. You have thoughts to share, thoughts that encourage, thoughts that share your passions and expertise, thoughts that will inspire others! Join me in the dance of the tumbleweeds!

If you have a blog I’d love to read it. Drop your link in the comments so I (and others) can become familiar with your work! Bloggers need to unite and support each other – so we don’t take a tumble!

Keep Shining,



  • Amy Illingworth 5 Apr

    Thank you for sharing your writing journey! Congratulations on the upcoming release of your book- I look forward to reading it! I, too, use my blog as a tool for reflection (https://reflectionsonleadershipandlearning.wordpress.com/ ). Keep writing, tumbleweed!


  • Kathy Perret 5 Apr

    Thank you Amy, I love your blog and your reflections!


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