By Kelly Carey
Last week Annie invited you to give your writing the gift of compassion. This week, let’s continue the gift giving.
Give your writing self the gift of encouragement.
This summer, I took a class taught by Charlesbridge editor Karen Boss. At the end of class, Karen asked us to write ourselves letters. The letters were an opportunity to chat about our writing hopes, dreams, and goals. Karen collected the letters and tucked them away. Five months later my letter appeared in my mailbox and it was the most wonderful gift.
I had totally forgotten about the letter and what little nuggets were scribbled on the page. What I found was a pep talk from the person who knows and understands my writing journey the most. In the letter, I reminded myself to believe in my writing skills, gave myself advice on how to set goals and keep at them, and included encouraging words along my road to publication.
I have read the letter half a dozen times and each time my writing spirit feels invigorated and motivated. My very own words have given me a wonderful new soundtrack to play in my head whenever I need to banish self-doubt or that nasty negative voice that likes to make noise and derail my creative energy. My letter has become a powerful tool on my road to writing success.
I am going to encourage you to send your writing self a letter. Be positive and encouraging in your letter. Seal it up and tuck it away, or give it to a writing friend or a critique partner and ask them to mail it in five months (maybe just in time for your six month June Year’s Eve goal assessment). Five months from now you will be grateful for the words you put on the paper.
~by Annie Cronin Romano
As we embark upon what may be the most hectic time of year, writers often find themselves faced with a more stressful than usual tug of war for their creative time. In this season of holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, and visiting relatives, when does our literary muse get a chance to do her magic? It can be a tremendous feeling of sacrifice and guilt. Particularly for those who manage to write on a regular basis, having your routine potentially interrupted can be unnerving. Some will keep their writing time intact. Come fire or flood, the writing will continue. But for those who may get thrown off track, give yourself an extra special, no-cost gift this season: Compassion. Cut yourself some slack. Allow yourself room to breathe. Get lost in the holidays if you choose. Deck the halls. Eat. Drink. Socialize. And lay off the guilt. January will be here before you know it, and you’ll be setting your writing goals for 2018. Until then, write when you can. And be merry. You deserve it.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at 24 Carrot Writing!
~by Amanda Smith
I have always had a gut feeling that writing poetry is a precursor to writing well. Only recently, while preparing a poetry workshop for middle school students, did I realize how strongly I believe in the poetry connection.
During my kids’ baby and toddler years, I didn’t have the strength, time, or mental capacity (Mommy brain, anyone?) to write long pieces. I pushed writing to the very outer circle of my priorities, but somewhere in my youngest’s second year the need to write wiggled its way right into the center of my being. I jotted down ideas, struggles, joys, and observations in free verse. As I played with words, clapped rhythms, and rearranged sentences, within me, something awoke again. And it grew. It grew into picture books, and early readers, and novels.
Even all these years and manuscripts later, the poetry that called me from my writer’s slumber is still relevant. Because what we learn in writing and studying poetry, translates to every kind of writing.
What do we gain when we write poetry?
I spent a big part of Monday writing limericks. I can’t remember when last I had so much fun. The silliness of it all, within the seriousness of the form. The absolute thrill of finding just the right rhyming words to deliver that guffaw in the last line. Playfulness unlocking imagination and humor. Play, play, play.
South African poet Carina Stander challenged herself in high school to write a new poem every second Sunday. She still does that. Ame Dyckman regularly tweets haiku-like observations. Kate DiCamillo often posts lyrical reflections on social media. Jane Yolen starts every work day by writing a poem. Considering their careers, I have to believe they're onto something. We need to shake this pressure that everything we write has to be for the book, or go in the book.
Will you explore the poetry connection with me? I’m challenging myself to produce a poem a week. Come join me. Our play has purpose.
By Francine Puckly
Like many of you, I take my continuing education and improvement of my craft seriously. I attend numerous workshops and writing conferences each year, and I collect handouts and scribble down pages of helpful notes as presenters take me through plotting and character development exercises, marketing tips and Scrivener tutorials. It’s a wealth of information. But what happens once I’m home? The notes are stacked on a desk or worse…tucked away in haphazard fashion, never to be seen nor heard from again.
I’ve learned that by taking just a few minutes after I return from these workshops and conferences to file my notes by topic, the information remains invaluable as I tackle various writing projects in different stages of development.
The first step in organizing notes by topic is to actually take notes by topic—separating each subject as it’s covered in your workshop or conference. The notes have to be taken on paper that can be easily separated (versus in a bound notebook, such as the beloved composition notebook). I use letter-sized, wide-ruled notepads to take notes. I keep all notes on separate pages. For example, if I’m at a conference and I move to a new workshop, I start notes for that session at the top of a new sheet of paper rather than continuing on the previous page. Other notepads will work as well—spiral notebooks and 5x7 hotel notepads to name a couple.
When I return home, I separate the pages from my notepad by subject and staple the pages from each workshop together. I keep any handouts with the notes I took, (either loose or attached with a paper clip). Presto! Notes by topic. Those notes are filed in manila folders by subject.
Once I have the notes in subject folders, I place those into an extra-capacity hanging file folder labeled “Craft.” Each subject file contains all related presentations. (You can read about my obsession with manila folders and extra-capacity hanging files in the-portable-office.html.
If I’m working on revising a draft of my manuscript, I grab the “Revision” file and peruse it for ideas and reminders for cutting, tightening, and pulling subplots together. If I’m struggling with my opening chapter, I pull out the “First Chapters” file to get inspired for fixing that. If I’m stumped about my website and how to improve the design, I pull out the “Web Design/Web Presence” file. You get the idea!
If, like me, your notes are taking over your office space, take a few minutes to think about what supplies you could add to your conference book bag in order to make your information more accessible and beneficial to your craft the next time you set off for a workshop. It only takes a few minutes of planning and filing to make the year ahead more productive, and all the money you’ve spent on conferences and workshops will be well worth it!
By Kelly J. Carey
Thank you to all those who joined our 2nd Annual 24 Carrot Writing Trick or Treat Party.
We shared some writing tricks like opening a Goodreads account (I’m a big fan of this tip!), to committing to 10 minutes of writing every day (Francine’s an advocate of a timed daily writing goal!). Amanda suggested flipping your protagonist and antagonist as a writing exercise, and we were encouraged to read in our genre so we would have the wisdom of mentor texts in our brain.
Treats were shared like the YA novels Calvin by Martine Leavitt and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, the MG novel Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk, and PBs Applesauce Day by Lisa Amstutz and Grandmother Thorn by Katey Howes.
I love that our 24 Carrot Writing community shared Tricks that included both craft and writing goals, and that our book Treats featured PB, MG and YA!
Our 24 Carrot Trick or Treat Party Winners of signed books are:
Kristi Liberty Mahoney – the A.C. Gaughen YA novel Scarlet
Meg Lysaght Thacher – the Molly B. Burnham MG novel Teddy Mars Almost an Outlaw
Brenda Maier – the Sue Lowell Gallion PB Pug & Pig Trick or Treat
If you are a party winner – please PM us with your address.
Thanks for joining the 24 Carrot Writing Trick or Treat Party!
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