i paint i write

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The April Fool’s Joke Was On Me

I wrote yesterday, but I didn’t publish it. I did not click the blue publish button on the top right hand side of the WordPress site. I wrote and published every day for the month of March. I was participating in the Slice of life Challenge  hosted by http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Ruth, one of the hosts of the challenge said, “The heart of the challenge is to develop a writing habit.”  There was a random drawing for  prizes offered at the end of the challenge for anyone who wrote every day for the month of March.

Yesterday was April 1st.  I did not have to write for the March writing challenge. I felt a little lost without having a writing deadline.

Was I writing for the prize. Do I only write for the comments? Do I only write for the praise? During the day after I had published my story on WordPress and  posted my story I would come and connect to my WordPress blog to see if there were any numbers showing up on the top right. Would it be a little white zero on a light brown background, or would I see an orange number. The little orange number telling me that someone had left me a comment.

Punished by rewards.  Will I write everyday if the number stays at zero?  What motivates me?  Am I a little mouse waiting for my grain to pop down. Waiting for the zero to turn to an orange number one, or maybe two?

In the book Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, the author talks about how we  punish  by our praise, or our rewards.  The child seeks the praise, the reward, rather than the inner satisfaction of a job well done. Writing what the teacher wants to read. Painting what the teacher wants us to paint. Painting the assignment to look exactly like the teachers so the student can get an A.  Rather than painting the orange apple with green polka dots that is in their heart.

I just finished teaching a  Comic Book Drawing Class. In the class  I made a point of not saying”I like that.” or, ” You did a great job.”  to the sixteen children in my class.  Wether or not I like what they do, is irrelevant. I want them to like what they do. If I say to one child at a table, ” I like that.” what about the other children who hear the praise? They will wonder. Mrs, Hodges didn’t say that about my drawing. What did the other student draw that she liked? I will copy that person so she will say that she likes my work too.”

Last semester I taught the same group of children a class on Color Theory. The students were drawing animals from reference. One student had drawn only an eye. The eye was bold and black. I wanted to show this drawing as an example to the rest of the class. A little voice in my head said, “Don’t do it Pamela. Don’t do it. It is not a good idea to do this.”  I didn’t listen to myself. I asked the student if I could show his drawing  to the class. I walked around the room and said, here is an example of taking one part of a drawing,  blah blah blah.  I gave him back his drawing, and  walked around the room looking at what the students were working on. Within seconds of my little presentation, four students had turned over their papers and started a new drawing. It was the same drawing as the one I had displayed.  A bold black, unoriginal drawing.

Yesterday was April Fools Day.  I played a trick on myself. And I believed it. I didn’t write. I didn’t think I was capable of writing every day. I thought I wouldn’t be able to deal with not being perfect. I would be crushed if I missed a day. If I missed one day, I would never write again.

Today I am writing. Today I will hit the blue button and publish my story.

I have a new habit. I will write every day. Except on April Fool’s Day. I will give myself grace.

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • lee

    I am also glad you are continuing to write, and I also look forward to reading your latest each day. It’s a little like the Hodges moved back to the Cities.

    BTW, your daily blogging inspired me to start blogging again. (Thanks!) I hope the daily practice helps make NaNoWriMo 2012 (http://nanowrimo.org) go much better for me than it has my first three times.

    • Thank you for the link to NaNoWeiMo 2012. An interesting idea.
      I want to invite you be part of the Tuesday Weekly Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC) http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/the-weekly-solsc-is-back/
      What ever story you post on Tuesday on your blog, share in the comments section on the above link. I did their challenge of writing every day for the month of March.
      Where can I find your blog? I need a daily dose of the Twin Cities.

      • lee

        Finishing the 50K-word marathon that is NaNo is a huge rush, even if what you crank out is some of the worst writing you will ever produce. I was going to try my hand at ScriptFrenzy this month, but work was too much. Maybe next year.

        Thanks for letting me know that SOLSC is still going. I didn’t know it continued on a weekly basis after the March challenged ended. So many other interesting blogs to read!

        http://atypicalamateur.com/ is where you can find my rambling thoughts. My goal is a post a day, even if I don’t manage to click Publish before the day runs out. I find it interesting that after three weeks, the world looks a little different. I can’t really explain how.

  • A teacher’s words has incredible power to shape the student’s work. Peter Johnston made me realize that in his book Choice Words. Don’t we use mentor texts to show us the possibilities in whatever the work it is we are doing/trying? It is sad when students think they have to change their work to match that of the teacher.

    I had no idea what that orange number was, thanks for enlightening me.

    • Elsie, thank you for the book suggestion by Peter Johnston. I looked the book up on Amazon, and will add it to my library.
      I remember my teacher showing us how to draw a bird in elementary school. Our bird was suppose to look like her bird. Silly really.

  • Love your stories & would miss them if they go away.

  • A beautiful way to describe exactly how I feel. As Paul, I have also felt fatigued from all the writing. Yet, yesterday as I drove around with my boys, I was seeing stories everywhere. I’m glad I took a day off too, but glad I posted yesterday to stay in the habit.

  • Paul

    I will agree that the comments did start to have an addictive quality; I too felt drawn to the “orange number”.

    At the same time, right now I’m feeling fatigued a bit by writing in such a public way. I think I’m going to go underground (into a notebook) for a while, and post things I think stand out from the private writing I’m doing. It’s National Poetry Month, and last year I did a poem a day, but this year I’m going to write daily but not post daily. Will see what happens to my motivation and production level.

    The point you make about student feedback is very well-taken. I’ve thought a lot about the issues related to feedback as I deal with the volumes of student writing that comes my way.

  • mcrooker

    I am glad that you are continuing to write. Even if it isn’t every day — although I have looked forward to reading it each day – – I feel like I have gotten to know you more over the last month. Thanks for sharing this with me.

  • Audrey Ralston

    I try to play for an audience of one. Sometimes I’m childish and want a gold star. Thank God for grace and reminders from friends : )

    • Ah, dear friend. I would always give you a gold star. Just because I love you.