What My Teaching Career Taught Me About Writing
By Jayna Morrow
Over the summer, something magical happens. The organization fairy pays a visit to my empty classroom and transforms it into the most magnificent, color-coordinated learning environment on the planet. Books are sorted, supplies are materialized, papers are filed, new draperies are sewn, bulletin boards are trimmed, and desks are placed neatly in rows. When I arrive for in-service week, my co-workers and I take in a few workshops and meetings, and then have lunch and reminisce about our relaxing summer vacations at the beach.
Christian romance author, Jayna Morrow, is published with Prism Book Group both in print and eBook formats. With a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Texas and elementary teaching certification from LeTourneau University, Jayna has been in the position of both teacher and student for many years. Her debut novel, Garrett, is the first in the Sweet Home, Texas series. The theme of Garrett is finding God’s purpose and trusting in God’s plan. Jayna makes regularl guest blogging appearances all over the internet, and has even been featured at eReader News Today, eFiction Finds, and Christian eBooks Today.
Did you pick up on the sarcasm in that first paragraph? In reality, I am my own organization fairy, complete with construction paper wings dusted with chalk. I spend several days a week during June and July in my hot classroom (there’s only air conditioning on certain days) sorting books by level and topic, taking inventory on supplies, filing and prioritizing paperwork, sewing new draperies and reading cushions, decorating bulletin boards, experimenting with different seating arrangements, and scouring yard sales for treasure chest trinkets, more books, craft materials, and odds and ends. Summer is also the time for the bulk of my lesson planning. Going through the TEKS and matching them up with fun projects and engaging activities, so I’m prepared for every teachable moment, makes me a better teacher.
And therein lies the key to success that applies to writing as well – preparation.
I’m a plotter by nature and that means putting on my teaching cap and doing a lot of prep work. I’d never take on a class of 22 students without a lesson plan, and I’d never take on a new manuscript without an outline. From characters and plot points to problems and solutions, I have a method for them all. Every day for a month, I uncover another layer in the pre-writing process. Then comes the rough outline and first draft. Finally, a finished product I can work with on many rounds of editing. In all, it takes me about 4 months to complete a novel. My goal is 4 books a year, so I’m working on efficiency to improve my productivity. Like my students, I have goals.
I have many writer friends who are pantsers, and all I can say about them is that they are like those gifted students who never have to study and make straight A’s. I commend them. Writing a novel is no easy task. I’m the kind of student who has to study a lot, take good notes, highlight important information, and keep a detailed binder on everything. Maybe that’s why I’m a plotter? Teaching and writing go hand-in-hand. It’s a process that spans a certain length of time, requires a fair amount of learning, and involves setting and achieving goals.
Have I accomplished all my goals? Yes, some of them. Then I set new ones. My experience as a teacher has taught me to set high expectations. I’ll let you, the reader, decide if I achieved those expectations.
“You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21
What happens when you’re living the dream and things suddenly change? Micara Lee’s charming existence starts slipping away as land developers threaten the town she loves.
What happens when your dream doesn’t align with God’s plan for your life? Garrett Hearth finds out when an injury ends his athletic career. Disenchantment and wavering faith keep him from the life he desires. Micara’s beautiful spirit touches Garrett’s heart… but can she help restore his faith and convince him to live the life God has planned for him?
Their happiness and the legacy of Sweet Home, Texas hang in the balance.
$2.99 Ebook/8.99 Print
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