Teacher Turns Writer
Patricia Reilly Giff always begins her day writing. “It’s like breathing to me,” she says. The author, who has penned more than 60 books including Storyteller, R My Name is Rachel, and the Polk Street School series, didn’t begin writing full-time until later in her life. For two decades, she was busy being a reading teacher.
“I loved teaching. It was my world,” Giff says. But she also had a strong desire to write. So one day she told her husband, “I’ve always wanted to write a book and now I shall.” And just like that, Giff was on her way to fulfilling her dream to write books that say “ordinary people are special.” She admits it wasn’t a smooth beginning. “I’d write 25 words and throw them out. But after a while, it became a little easier.”
Giff says that many of her ideas are inspired from her teaching experience. “I had worked with so many children who had terrible problems and I wanted to make them laugh,” she says. “I want the children to bubble up with laughter or to cry over my books. I want to picture them under a cherry tree or at the library with my book in their hands. But more, I want to see them reading in the classroom. I want to see children in solitude at their desks, reading, absorbing, lost in a book.”
When Giff visits schools and libraries to talk to children, she reveals a surprising secret about writing. “I don’t think it takes talent to write,” she says. “I have no special talent, you know. I never took a writing course before I began to write.” The secret is to “read every day. Write every day…even if it’s only 10 minutes! Don’t stop. That’s what makes a writer.”
Find out more about Patricia Reilly Giff’s writing secrets on The Studio.