by Lisa Bullard
My Texas grandparents usually made the long drive to Minnesota. But the summer I was thirteen, my parents piled me, my two younger brothers, and a borrowed boy cousin into the old station wagon and headed us south.
I escaped into the far back, propping myself up on suitcases and reading a thousand-page-long Civil War novel called House Divided. The boy’s constant bickering added a backdrop of battleground sound effects.
Did I mention how often we had to turn around and go back somewhere to retrieve my cousin’s forgotten retainer?
“Are we there yet?” That question comes out on every long drive. There’s point where we just want to be DONE with all the traveling. It’s the same with a writing road trip. There’s at least one moment during every one of my writing projects when I think: I’m done. This has to be good enough. The problem is, I’m often nowhere near my destination when this happens.
To be a writer over the long haul, you have to get back on the road and keep writing despite those moments. But it helps enormously to change things up somehow — I might alter my writing location by going to a coﬀee shop, or turn on music (usually I’m a non-music writer).
Students have this same “I’m done” response after they’ve worked on a long project for a while. One of the most eﬀective ways I’ve found to generate a new burst of enthusiasm in them is to let them switch from writing longhand to keyboarding. Sign up for the computer lab, or let students take turns on a classroom computer. This simple change always fuels new writing energy.
Even on the longest trip, the answer to “Are we there yet?” is eventually, “Yes! We ﬁnally made it!”