Today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 post comes to us from Peter Dargatz. Reading Peter’s post reminded me of the main reason I started 12 x 12. The desire to increase my output of writing. Many of you have had that moment that gives meaning to your passion for writing, as Peter talks about below, but sometimes we need a good ol’ fashioned deadline to get down to business. Read on for the (un?)surprising side effects of working on a deadline.
My high school quote was, “I’d love to be a procrastinator, but I can’t fit it in my schedule.” My poor attempt at sarcasm back then is more applicable to me now, though author can replace procrastinator. I have always had stories to tell and a passion to share them, but needed a push to get those stories from my mind to paper. I have dabbled in writing in spurts over the last few years. I have shared stories to my 4th grade and kindergarten students and fellow teachers. I joined The Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). I even completed a PiBoIdMo challenge to take my picture book passion to the next level. Still, that dabbling was inconsistent and at times incoherent.
Then, life happened. Literally. When I learned of my future fatherhood, I dedicated time to jot down ideas from my life using an idea of writing 200 stories made up of 200 words to teach my future child about me, from wacky childhood dreams to embarrassing moments to so much more. Once I wrote those 200 stories, my desire to write led to 200 more stories about experiences from my classroom. Then, when my life changed forever with the birth of my beautiful daughter, my story writing turned to detailing the adventures (and occasional misadventures) of being a father. Moving to writing to sharing these stories about my past, my classroom, and fatherhood led to my DADventures blog.
Though I still jot down occasional “dadventures” down, my focus moved from non-fiction stories to the long, long, long list of ideas I have always had for picture books. However, as my list of ideas grows longer and longer by the day, the time I had to write seemed to dwindle away. Whether it was my increasing school and familial responsibilities or working through my volunteer opportunities coaching Special Olympics or leading tyke hikes on Wisconsin’s amazing Ice Age National Scenic Trail, finding the time to write was becoming a growing issue, especially as my dream of writing for children became more of a passion than merely a hobby.
That’s when I reached out to my fantastic SCBWI-Wisconsin critique group and was told about 12 x 12. Besides connecting me with a multitude of writers that inspire and teach me, I am now able to share my ideas, get varied and almost instantaneous feedback and critique the work of others, processes which support my growth as a writer. 12 x 12 has (lovingly) forced me to write more, learn more, and essentially, think more.
My quantity of writing time has increased since I joined, but more importantly, my quality has too. And, with more practice, more persistence, and more positivity, I am confident I will be able to take the “pre” out of pre-published author when I meet new writers in the 12 x 12 community.
Peter Dargatz is currently a nationally-board certified kindergarten teacher in Wisconsin. Besides spending time with his wife, daughter, dogs, cats and turtles, he volunteers as a Tyke Hike Coordinator for the Ice Age Trail Alliance and coaches Special Olympics throughout the year. His claims to fame are his previous summer gigs: being a racing sausage for the Milwaukee Brewers and working at the Milwaukee County Zoo as a Zoomobile tour guide.