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.