The Car Window Poetry classroom tour continued today, as I spent the morning writing nearly 100 poems with 50 fourth graders at Odyssey Elementary School. It was a blast!
Ms. Guinn and Ms. Drake's classes started their poetry unit yesterday, and, when first starting something, it's easy to believe you can't do it. At the beginning of the class, a lot of kids stared at their blank Car Window Poetry cards and spoke up with, "I can't write a poem."
As grownups, we aren't too different from these kids. Many of us experience neophobia, or the fear of starting something new. While new beginnings are freeing for some, for many of us, new beginnings mean uncertainty, anxiety and fear.
Today, while hanging out with fourth graders at Odyssey, I came across 3 ways we can overcome the fear of starting something new:
1. Make it simple.
The reason many of us fear new beginnings is because they seem daunting. Even four lines on a blank Car Window Poetry card can seem like too tall a task for someone who doesn't see him or herself as a poet.
For kids who were afraid to begin writing, I tried to make the task simple. I asked them questions, such as what they like to do and what makes them smile. Once they realize poetry is no more than an expression of themselves and what matters to them, they feel better about going on this new adventure because they realize it's something they already do.
2. Make a plan.
Some people can jump right into new things without a care in the world, but that's difficult for those of us who are more hesitant to start new things. We can't start from scratch. We need some kind of framework to help us move forward.
After simplifying the task for today's class, I then worked with kids on what they wanted to say. They had ideas in mind, but we then had to shape those ideas into an actual poem. So we'd work through the different ideas, figure out what words we wanted to say, and how we could craft those words in a creative way. For many of these kids, once they had a plan, they were ready to begin writing.
3. Make magic!
The key to starting something new is to start. Like Nike says, "Just do it." You realize the task in front of you isn't as daunting as it seemed. You have magic within you that's ready to be shared. You have a plan, as well as a direction you want to go in. Now, you just have to put the pen to paper and write.
Although anxious at first, once the kids began writing, they began to see that starting something new isn't half bad. Many of them actually liked writing poems. So much so that kids begged to share their poems. One girl asked for extra Car Window Poetry cards, so she could cover her street with them. And my favorite moment came when a kid, who said he couldn't write a poem at the start of the class, exclaimed, "I didn't know I was a poet" by the end.
Before you do, don't believe you can't. Write on. Create on. Encourage those around you to pursue their dreams even if they don't feel equipped. You're more prepared than you think you are. And guess what – you might realize you're a poet, too!
If you want to give poetry a shot, submit your poems here!