One of the greatest things about teaching is colleagues, like-minded people who appreciate writing and the teaching of writing as much as I do. Chloe Yelena Miller is one of those people. I think this post will show you why.

Writers have to be clear-headed to write. How could writers revise lines or choose the best word if they are ill or under the influence?

Student writers sometimes tell me they can’t write because they aren’t depressed. Or that they haven’t had enough tragic thanks happen to them so they have nothing to write about. The underlying wish seems to be, “If only something bad would happen to me.”

I’m not a generally superstitious person, but this is when I pantomime knocking on wood.

Writers pose and untangle questions. Sometimes those questions are directly related to something that happened to that writer. But the questions don’t have to be. They can be responses to anything that they’ve read, seen or heard about.

Journal writing can help a writer through a difficult period. If a writer is experiencing difficulties, I always recommend seeking professional help. Once the writer is in a safer, more comfortable place, then she can work on pieces that might later be shared with the world. Writers must take care of themselves, just like everyone else. And then, unlike non-writers, their job is to write, consider and record the world and bring the readers to understand an emotional or human truth.

Does that mean that writers have all the answers? Of course not. Experience and attention are key, not disaster. Like Thoreau said, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Writers spend time considering the world and crafting their responses into words. And this can only happen from a good, mental place. Try it and see what happens.

Chloe Yelena Miller is a teaching writer who blogs regularly at

Waterfalls (From Eben van Tonder’s Blog)