Teaching Vs. Speaking and How It Relates to Writing

I'm a teacher at heart. I've taught elementary school, middle school, and been a school librarian; so for me, teaching is kind of what I do.

Getting up in front of a group of students to teach them something? No problem. But "speaking" to a group of students? Now that's another story.

If I have to stand in front of adults or young people, large group or small, when I think of it as "speaking," or giving a speech, the task becomes nerve-wracking and daunting. I think about all the details of effective public speaking; and, because those aren't necessarily second nature for me, I become distracted by myself and my delivery. On the other hand, if I embrace the speaking opportunity as a time of teaching, since teaching is so much a part of me, I forget about myself, think more about the content that I'm excited to share with my audience; and as a result, I get lost in the moment, relax into it, and enjoy. It goes without saying that I do a much better job of teaching than "speaking."

In thinking about this post, I pondered over all this, and as often is the case, it reminded me of my writing life. When I'm creating a story and writing a rough draft, if I focus on things like the mechanics of writing, my plot points, and my characterization, I become distracted. My delivery becomes more important than the characters I'm trying to develop, and my story ends up becoming a slave to all those confining guidelines all of us have learned about writing. But, if I embrace the opportunity the page gives me to tell a story that's inside me, I forget all the confines of writing perfection, and I get lost in the moment, relax into it, and undoubtedly produce writing that is far superior. Then, once I've captured my story, and I have it down on paper, I can polish it toward perfection as I pay attention to all those writerly ways our English teachers taught us to make our writing shine.

For me, the transferrable truth in all this is that when we focus on our passion, no matter what that might be, we're likely to do our best work.

Happy Reading & Writing,