Write to Reflect vs. Writing Reflections

Ah the beauty of a Twitter chat to pull out of me something that I practice often, but have rarely been consciously aware of in my process.  As I started to write, I was reminded of what Pope famously said:

True wit is nature to advantage dress’d,
What oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d,
Something, whose truth convinc’d at sight we find,
That gives us back the image of our mind.

Now I don’t claim to be better at expressing than others, but for my most critical audience- me, I abashedly feel  a warm catharsis at the discovery of  the connection between my process and one I once used with my students.

I recently responded to a chat question about reflection, I shared that I more often write to reflect as opposed to writing my reflections.  What I meant is that more often than otherwise, I have an idea that starts the process, then I see where the idea takes me as I write.  I start a journey without a destination merely for the purpose of taking the journey, as I know that invariably, the journey is one that manifests new ideas, and thus growth, or perhaps revitalizes old ideas and dusts them off.  On the most adventurous of journeys, a series of explosive connections occurs bringing new, old, and the synthesized creation resulting from the mixture of both.

Rarely when I blog do I have a fully developed idea that is ready to be drafted and shared (as in right now- I only thought to share the Pope passage when I wrote the word expressed in my first sentence- a word I took out after sharing the passage to avoid repetition).  As a result, my writing is the reflection in its purest, rawest, neophytic form.  Sometimes, it works out beautifully, others the writing goes in my draft pile for later thought, consideration, and perhaps even revision.  This process reminds me of something I use to do with my students called writing to learn.

  • Writing to Learn (WTL): Rejecting the notion that writing serves primarily to translate what is known onto the page, advocates of writing to learn suggest teachers use writing to help students discover new knowledge—to sort through previous understandings, draw connections, and uncover new ideas as they write. From “Because Writing Matters” (NWP & Nagin, 2003).

It was only in response to a great question during that chat last that I was able to think about the NWP writing concept- which led to my first words today-then the Pope verse- and how my own process is connected to both.  So while the idea that I write to reflect, the unlocking of the reflection was direct result of the powerful catalyst that was a great, open-ended, thought provoking question in an environment where trust, respect, and liberation exist- despite the fact that most of us only know each other in the twitter-sphere. So my writing (as with my students’ composition) is my learning happening in real-time, not a record of what has been previously learned.

Usually, this type of reflection would find its way to the save for later pile.  It is all over the place. I jump around, I lose focus, I ponitificate, and I am fighting the urge to go back to make wholesale changes. But I will not make the changes, and I will share this, because that is the point- this piece is an un-mapped reflection. It started with a 140 character response.



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