Week Twenty-Four - Writing for Children and Teens
From Inspiration to Publication
November 15, 2016
As I begin writing this week’s blog post, I see that it is Week 24. It’s been six months since I began this course. What a difference six months makes. I did not consider myself a writer for children when I started, but I do now. I think some of the reason this course affects me so much is that every single week I take some time to reflect on my learning, writing, and feelings. I don’t just think about my work, I write at least 1,000 words about my thoughts. This structured thinking about my writing makes an impact. No longer can I ignore my progress or lack thereof, instead I must consider it, share my thoughts, and move forward in a new way.
Believe it or not, I am currently working on the final assignment––Assignment Ten. There are two choices with this assignment. One is to write and revise a nonfiction article to try to get it published in one of the children’s magazines described in an amazing resource created by the Institute of Children’s Literature. If you purchase it right now, you’ll only have to pay $10. It is completely worth it (so is the latest version which is the most recent update and is a little more). I’m not doing advertising for them, I’m being honest. It answers all the questions you might have about how to get published in a magazine and who might publish you.
The other assignment choice is to write a children’s book. I’ve chosen this option for my final assignment because I’m already writing a chapter book. I use this course by incorporating each of the things I learn weekly into helping me write my chapter book for children. Whenever I am assigned something, I put it to use in the real world. For example, I sent out queries ... and got one accepted. I signed up for pitches with agents ... and got two agents interested.
This process works for me, but as my instructor mentioned when he returned my Assignment Nine––I’ve been diligent about each assignment. I haven’t put them away and waited too long. I’ve gotten right into each following assignment the day my previous one was returned. This has made a big difference for me. When the instructor said, you can get this back to me in six weeks, I got it back in three. I don’t think I rushed it, but by making it a priority and putting my writing first in my life, I put myself first.
So now that I’m writing an actual chapter book for children, I find myself reviewing each lesson I learned in past weeks and using that learning as a reminder for who I must be, how I must work, and what to consider as I write.
Week 1: Be brave
Week 2: Use good resources
Week 3: Take yourself seriously
Week 4: Take the time you need to develop good writing
Week 5: Write short, be concise
Week 6: Use a writing notebook religiously
Week 7: Embrace all the parts of the process
Week 8: Instead of giving yourself an out, give yourself an in, write more
Week 9: Create a research and organizational system
Week 10: Make an appointment with yourself to write every day
Week 11: Work hard on extending your vocabulary
Week 12: Write a lot
Week 13: When you are stuck, consider what ifs
Week 14: Work hard on your characters
Week 15: Learn about the business side of writing
Week 16: Keep those writing appointments with yourself
Week 17: Writing is a learned skill
Week 18: Use good resources like “Book Markets for Children’s Writers 2016”
Week 19: Take time to brainstorm, it’s a part of the writing process
Week 20: Mix genres to add interest
Week 21: Be an original
Week 22: How long does the ICL course take?
Week 23: Is it easy to access this course?
That’s a whole lot of learning, isn’t it? As I read over each of the posts I’ve written, I learn even more. It’s easy to forget where your head was six months, four months, or even just one month ago. This challenge to myself to write about each week was not well thought out––I’ll admit. Some weeks I did NOT want to reflect on my experience, but I’m so glad I did. Isn’t that the way it is with so many things that matter in life? The time we put into things makes it seem difficult, unmanageable even. It isn’t until we look back with the proverbial 20/20 vision that we see how important the process is.
Along the way I’ve also learned how to focus my time and space. I figure out what I need to have in place as I write. On great writing days, I have to think about what went well so that I can recreate it. What I need has changed significantly as well. For example, when I began this course, I asked my husband if he would build me a desk. I envisioned a magical part of the house where my writing would bloom and I would become a world famous author. This is what that space looks like now:
Isn’t that a sorry looking sight? It turns out I like writing at my kitchen counter better. My kids do their homework while I write. It’s amiable and helps me alleviate the guilt I sometimes feel when I put writing before parenting. The moral is that you need to be flexible in your idea of what a writer needs. I thought I needed a space, but it turns out I only need a computer, thinking time, writing time, and good resources. For me, I guess the desk and room doesn’t matter as much as I thought it would.
As I round out my time with ICL, I feel so grateful for the experience. I love being a writer for children now. I know I can be proud of what I write and I know that I have to keep doing what I’ve been doing in order to get better.
Kimberley Moran's site
Kimberley Moran is a gifted and talented teacher and freelance writer who lives in Hampden, Maine. She has two children and one very nice husband. Kimberley would like her bio to make her sound brilliant, witty, and kind because she knows that when you write and read you get to be anyone you want to be.