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5 Things Primary School Teaching Taught Me About Writing

Most writers have day jobs, which feed into their writing. Every Friday I’ll be asking a writer what unexpected lessons their day job has taught them about the craft.

This week, I asked novelist/former primary school teacher Neven Carr to share her experiences working as an elementary school teacher.

Neven Carr lives in what she terms is an author’s haven; a quaint fishing village on the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Her former years as a Primary School teacher provided her with many life experiences, some treasured, some not so treasured, but ones she continually draws upon when writing her novels. Find her on Twitter @nevencarr or Facebook

Neven: There has rarely been a time in my life when I have not read or written. I began writing my first book at ten-years-old. I never finished it. Eight years ago, I picked up my laptop and began writing. Since then I have not stopped. I have now published my first novel "Forgotten’"and am currently working on four more in the "Araneya Series". Maybe the timing was right; maybe I needed more life experiences. I don't know but working on my books is now my life!

Lesson #1: Timetabling

Organisation and routine is integral when teaching up to thirty students every day. Thus, the first thing I would do at the start of a new teaching year is draw up a thorough timetable, one that was visible for the students also.Of course, it was flexible enough to include any one off activities like excursions etc. But for the most part, I stuck to the timetable.

After I stopped teaching, I drew up a timetable that included writing times, housework, downtime and so on.I needed that specified routine. Also my family would know when I was writing and the fact that this was my alone time.

Lesson #2: Not every classroom lesson is a success

Teachers place many expectations on themselves, especially the success of each lesson. But sometimes, the lesson fails for a whole variety of reasons. I had to accept that, look at what went wrong and how I could improve it next time.

When writing, I don’t expect that every piece of work is going to be great. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. What’s important is to find out why a piece of writing didn’t work and improve on it.

Lesson #3: You have to be passionate

Teaching is a passion. I loved it, the students, their exuberant faces when something clicked for them, loved making their day a fun learning experience.

Writing has to be a passion also. I love the creating, falling into a different world with my characters.

Lesson #4: Accept constructive criticism

During my career as a teacher, other teachers or principals would assess my teaching. Positive feedback was always a joy. But I had to learn to accept constructive feedback; that was how I improved.

When getting feedback on my writing, the same applies. Constructive criticism helps me to improve as a writer.

Lesson #5: Carry a notebook

Many times, when I was at home or elsewhere, I would remember something I hadn’t done at work, have fresh ideas, hear something on the news that would create a great discussion with the students the next day and so on.I would jot them down in a notebook so I wouldn’t forget.

Yes, the same goes with writing ideas. I have a large pile of filled notebooks, as I’m sure many of us writers do.

Thanks to Neven for this week's post! Any valuable lessons you've learned from your day job? Do share!

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