Stamina for Writing

Over at the NWP iAnthology, Janet Ilko has invited teachers to consider, “How do you build writers with stamina?”  As a middle school teacher, she talks about how daily journaling is a way to build stamina in her young writers.  (She works to build her own writing stamina through her blog, Writing in My Hand, as well.)

Stamina and fluency are important characteristics of writers.  Fluency allows for the words to flow onto the page and stamina means working through the hard parts of writing to keep on writing, to rework writing, to improve writing, to understand the importance of writing to learning and thinking and communicating.

One of the ways we build stamina in our classroom is by creating a culture where writing is the norm.  It’s no big deal…we write all the time.  We write to explain our mathematical thinking as we explore math concepts.  We write to describe what we are learning through our science labs.  We write to learn about spelling patterns and grammatical concepts.  We write stories, poems, arguments, and to share information with others.  We write to plan, to remember, and we write to reflect.

This week we asked students to do some reflective writing in preparation for student-led conferences next week.  We asked them to think about their learning in math, reading, writing, science, and with our iPads.  And what I notice is that these students have stamina for writing.  They know that writing gives voice to their learning.  It matters to them, to us as their teachers, to their parents…and to each other.

We are a community of writers.  And writers write.  They write because writing helps them think, and remember, and communicate.  And sometimes they publish too.  But mostly they write because writing matters in our community of learners.


I hope it lasts a lifetime.  How do you build stamina in your writers?  How do you build your own writing stamina?

4 thoughts on “Stamina for Writing

  1. woody mott

    70+ plus and still no stamina; two dissertations not finished and many other projects of one paragraph to a few pages sit in folders and on various and sundry hard disks some magnetically scrambled; others live; I threaten to complete them but then decide to do more research or in other ways dilly-dally about — keep the kids writing; maybe at 70 they would have chip on chip of half finished stuff.

    1. kd0602 Post author

      Sometimes perfectionism gets in the way of completion when it comes to writing! Just heard a piece about Roald Dahl today (the author of Matilde and other books for children) and his practice of sitting and writing every day from 10-12 and 3-5, even when he didn’t think he had something to write. Sometimes stamina comes from developing a regular practice. (I know it works for me when it comes to blogging!) Thanks for commenting! It’s fun to know you read and think about what I post!

  2. Janet Ilko (@writin4change)

    I love reading your blog to get a glimpse into your classroom. It is not so different than my own although our ages and demographics of students would say otherwise. But the commonalities of sharing students more than one year, that opportunity to see the growth over time, and to develop that relationship remain constant in both our classrooms. That is what I love about the San Diego Area Writing Project. We are all such different people, yet find those connections and strengths that make us all better teachers of writing, and writers ourselves.

    1. kd0602 Post author

      Thanks Janet! I do love our connections across classrooms and grades and subject matter. And thanks for the prompt to think about the concept of stamina and its importance in writing.


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