Writing Mini-Lessons: Writing Territories

The range of things you do as a writer are your writing territories. These territories include genres you know or want to try, subjects you’ve written about or would like to, and the audiences for your writing. A territories list gives you a glimpse of who you are as a writer, student, son/daughter, brother/sister, young adult, and friend. Your territories list is a bank of ideas: a place to go when trying to determine a topic/subject about which to write. Keeping a territories list can help you be a more organized, productive, and focused writer. It helps you keep your eyes on the prize by constantly reminding you of who you are and what you know and what your passions are.

As you listen to and see the writing territories list of a teacher and two students, if anything catches your ear as something that is part of your repertoire as a writer or something you think you’d like to try someday, record it on your own writing territories list in your writing binder. Any tiny seedling of an idea should be captured so that it may become the root of a written piece later or spark an idea for a totally different topic.

In Collecting Your Writing Territories, Consider…

* memories: early, earlier, and recent * favorites, now and then
* obsessions * pets, now and then
* idiosyncrasies * teachers, now and then
* problems * places: school, camp, trips, times away with             friends and relatives
* dreams * hobbies
* itches * sports
* understandings * games
* confusions * music
* passions * books
* sorrows * poems
* risks * songs
* accomplishments * movies
* fears * writers and artists
* worries * food
* fantasies * pet peeves
* family, close and distant * beloved things—objects and possessions—now             and then
* friends, now and then * all the loves of your life
* fads * anything else


See Ms. M.’s Writing Territories.

©2002 by Nancie Atwell from Lessons That Change Writers (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann)