For most of my elementary and middle school years, I was in designated “gifted” classrooms. Each classroom hosted students from two consecutive grades.
In seventh and eighth grade, my teacher was Mrs. Brick. Her boisterous laugh, a mass of brown curls, and smile-filled face helped me relax into my seat each morning, ready for our writing and history lessons.
When it came to teaching us the basics of a five-paragraph essay, Mrs. Brick didn’t dive into the mechanics of each paragraph or how to cite our sources.
She told us to focus on a single brick.
It’s tempting to try too hard when I write. To make every piece of writing mean too much. And especially for personal writing, I want so badly to share that I often go wide instead of deep.
Mrs. Brick drew a detailed brick building on the whiteboard and said, “you can’t describe an entire building in detail in just five paragraphs. So when you sit down to write, don’t write about the building.”
She circled a wall on the building and continued with, “don’t write about an entire wall.”
She circled a section of the wall. “Don’t write about one section.”
She made the smallest circle of all, around just one brick. “Write about the brick.”
It’s easy to lose our focus when we try to see the whole picture at once.
One brick might feel insignificant. But focusing on the brick helps us see more nuance, detail, and beauty.
So often, I want to write in a flurry and pour out five or six or seven stories. But my writing is better when I just focus on one.
And that’s part of why I’m working on the JLC Story Hour project. I want to become a more consistent, clear, and focused writer. Instead of trying to write copy that speaks to the building, I want to go back to telling the story of the brick.