Reading Your Own Writing

Today is a publishing party. Okay, not exactly a party (we’ve got school tomorrow), but certainly a celebration. Five author copies of my new ASCD Arias book arrived at our doorstep today.


It’s a surreal experience to see your own writing at the publishing stage. And it is a stage. The spotlight is on your work. Maybe because of this sense of disorientation, there’s also a sense of distance between what you wrote and what is in print. I had a digital book published last year on digital portfolios, also exciting. But holding something you created in your hands is an altogether different feeling. It’s real. So much for the death of paper.

After flipping through the pages and glancing at the front and back covers a couple thousand times, I actually sat down tonight and read through the first part of my book. I realized two things: It’s a book, and it was worth writing. In my desk are the five drafts that preceded this final edition. Others will read it and hopefully find what I have to share applicable to their own classrooms and schools about thoughtful use of technology in education.

I can see how this type of thing could go to one’s head. What you created has a specific identification, in the form of an ISBN number. It will live for some time in the publisher’s catalog, on retailer’s websites, and in print on people’s shelves. You can autograph it (the first one went to my wife, of course). Feeling my ego already expanding, I compared the thickness of my book to one of my daughter’s early reader chapter books.

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Effectively humbled! Reflecting on my second writing journey has helped me realize how challenging it can be to take a project from an initial idea to being published. I think that is why I don’t rate books less than 3 stars on Goodreads: Even if I don’t particularly like a book, I can at least respect the effort and persistence of the author(s) in preparing their text to be publish-ready. This is an important note for readers who rate books based on their own system, but fail to understand the process it took to get to the product.

Having your writing published is a feeling I would want for anyone who has a passion for both a specific topic and for writing. Nothing should prevent them from this experience. There are services online through Amazon and smaller companies that will print texts out at a reasonable cost. If I was a teacher right now, I would be seriously considering this option. Having your writing available for others to take seriously and read with respect could be motivating for anyone to put forth their best effort.

What I share here is more of a ramble than an essay (otherwise known as a “blog post”). Appropriate, as my blog is where it all started: Simply posting my ideas about literacy, leadership, and technology online, and allowing my reflections and experiences to fill in the ever-expanding whitespace. No limits. I wonder what I’ll create next? Whatever I write, I look forward to sharing it with others to read.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

4 thoughts on “Reading Your Own Writing”

  1. Matt,

    I love the pride and thrill of being a published author that shines through in your post. Is it a greater thrill than your first book, an e-book, to have a physical book for your new publication? Enjoy the celebration of all your work! Cheering you on with your next book!

    Warm regards,


    1. I would say it is different Regie. Nothing beats getting published for the first time, digital or in print. However, being able to hold your book in your hands is pretty amazing.

      I’ve encouraged staff members to consider publishing their own work and student writing using publishing tools such as It’s relatively inexpensive.


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