In the depths of last winter, at the height of the pandemic, I started writing again.
When one of my heroes offered a weekly writing course I jumped at the chance. Each week since January 3rd he has given us a writing assignment, some sort of prompt, and sent us away with the message “good hunting”. Then every Tuesday our group of writers comes together in a google drive folder to share our creations and offer each other feedback.
A few weeks ago our instructor gave us a prompt which asked us to touch on the mystery of life, and a number of us heard “write something profound”. Anyone who has sat down and tried to write something profound can tell you that the quickest way to block yourself is to sit down and try to write something profound.
That is not how this craft works.
This past weekend some of us joined our instructor on a zoom call to discuss recent submissions and the difficulty of setting out to write something profound came up.
One member of our members suggested that a question from another member may have skewed our focus in this direction, away from the instructor’s intent, and he smiled and responded:
I’m going to go with bad teacher, good student.
I appreciate the disarming way that our instructor deflected any notion of blame and gently took responsibility for any gap between what he said and what we heard. In that one short phrase he smoothly diffused any sense that we had failed and refocused us on participating.
It is so easy to get distracted when learning, to become self-critical, to get in our own way. And it is so easy to blame other people when things don’t work out the way we expect or the way we want.
Good teachers have a way of helping us relax so we can take risks and focus on the work of learning new things.
I love this class.