THE GIFT OF WRITING

Today, I was going to post another blog about revising manuscripts, but to be honest, I wasn’t in the mood.

At the moment, I’m deeply immersed in Christmas shopping, in choosing the perfect presents for the people I love.

As always, books are a major part of my shopping list and I get a tingle of anticipation when I think of how the readers are going to love the books I have chosen for them.

Today I was spending time gift wrapping said books, and it struck me what a truly extraordinary gift writing is.

Writing is a gift that is both given and received. It’s a gift we’re born with and it’s something that grows with us if we nurture it. Sadly, it’s something that some people don’t get to experience which is why we should support important initiatives like the Indigenous Literacy Project.

Writing is an amazing gift that we can give to others. The stories we create can make people laugh, make them cry, inspire, inform, entertain and educate – so many wonderful things we can do for others with our words.

What we write can help readers empathise with our characters, it can help people going through hardship by letting them know that they are not alone, that what they are going through isn’t their fault, that there’s a way out.

We can use our writing to share things with readers that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.

Whatever form our writing takes whether it be paper or electronic, words are a precious gift.

So if you’re a writer, look after your gift, share it well and allow it to help you become the person you want to be.

Thanks for following my deescribewriting blog this year. May you have a safe and happy Christmas and a year ahead that’s full of inspiration and great reading and writing.

Dee

xx

P.S. If you have some spare writing time over the holiday break, you might like to enter one of the writing competitions at my Writing Classes For Kids blog. December’s theme is scary stories. January will be fantasy stories.

10 TIPS FOR NANOWRIMO – Good Habits & Motivation

Last year when I did NaNo, I got off to a flying start and had around 20,000 words written in the first week.

I was driven by the pressure of getting those words down. My mind was full of the writer’s greatest question, What if? But in this case, my “What ifs” had nothing to do with the story I was writing. I worried, What if I got sick and didn’t feel like writing for a week? What if my hands got too sore from typing and I couldn’t type anymore? What if I ran out of ideas? What if something happened to my computer?

So I felt like I needed to get it all done upfront just in case. It meant long hours, not much sleep, less family time and too much stress.

This year I decided to pace myself – to take the risk that something might come up, that I might have a bad week, that for some reason I might spend a couple of days writing nothing,

And I have to say it’s all working better for me. The ideas are flowing easier because the brain isn’t under so much stress, the body feels better because I’m not using caffeine to keep it upright. And although I’ve written way fewer words than last year I feel calmer and more positive that I will reach my goal of 50,000 words.

10 TIPS FOR NANOWRIMO

So what are my 10 tips for NaNo so far?

1. Set yourself realistic goals. Don’t go for ‘pie in the sky’. If there’s no way you can write 2000 words in a day then don’t expect it of yourself.

2. Don’t put yourself under ridiculous pressure. Don’t stress out if you have a nil or bad word count day. Remember there’s always tomorrow and the next day.

3. Celebrate the amazing word counts of writerly colleagues but don’t feel you have to match them – this is your race and everyone works at a different pace.

4. Rest when you need to, drink water and make sure you walk, jog or whatever you like to do. I find that moving about is really great for releasing the creativity.

5. Tell people you are doing NaNoWriMo. It helps strengthen your commitment

6. Allow yourself thinking time to work out where your story will go next.

7. Celebrate each word, Attempting NaNoWriMo is an achievement in itself.

8. Don’t count your words all the time. Back off and tally them at the end of the day.

9.  If you’re feeling sluggish, find a writerly friend to have a word war with – get the adrenaline going again.

10. Work around your commitments to set yourself a regular time of day to write. Treat your writing like any other daily activity – brushing teeth, having breakfast. Incorporate your writing in your routine.

It’s still early days for NaNoWriMo 2011 but I’d love to hear how your going and if you have tips you’d like to share.

Feel free to leave your comments on this blog.

Happy writing:)

Dee

P.S. This week my Writing Classes For Kids blog has more great tips about developing good writing habits and there’s also a post and writing activity about story problems.

Festival in Bendigo for Young Writers

On 25th November I’m joining 15 other great authors and illustrators for a day of literary fun at Bendigo Catholic College.

I’ll be doing workshops along with.

  • Dianne Bates
  • Meredith Costain
  • Sue Bursztynski
  • George Ivanoff
  • Sean McMullen
  • Hazel Edwards
  • Claire Saxby
  • Susanne Gervay
  • Lorraine Marwood
  • Sherryl Clark
  • Phil Kettle
  • Danny Willis
  • Jacqui Grantford
  • Felicity Marshall
  • Judith Rossell
  • Marc McBride.

This is a chance for enthusiastic young writers to learn all about books and their creators.

Librarians/teachers, if you know keen young writers who might want to attend this festival contact Leah Toose ltoose@ccb.vic.edu.au or Sarah Cody scody@ccb.vic.edu.au for more details.

A NEW WRITING VENTURE

Sorry,  but there are no tips this week.

I have been busy  launching a new writing venture that I’m very excited about.

As well as writing for kids and teens I also love mentoring young writers.

I run weekly and school holiday writing programs for kids and they’re so much fun. But unfortunately, I get heaps of enquiries from people interstate and all over Victoria who can’t make it to the classes.

So now I’ve set up a place where writers from  8 to adult can do free and affordable classes and activities online.

Writing Classes For Kids will focus mostly on helping young writers but new and emerging adult writers will also find the teen tips and lessons helpful. I plan on making them a mixture of theoretical and practical tips like the ones I post here at my DeeScribe Writing Blog.

Here’s what will be happening at  Writing Classes For Kids :

  1. Free Writing activities
  2. Free basic lesson plans
  3. Free Writing tips
  4. Detailed lesson plans to be used at home or in the classroom – can be downloaded for $5 As well as writing activities these will include extension and reflection activities
  5. Free Competitions where you can win free books and writing services
  6. An online assessment service offered
  7. E-books to come
  8. Lots of visits from published authors who will be sharing tips too
  9. Lots of great ideas for your own author visits to schools and festivals

Some topics to watch for include:

Teen to Adult

  1. Heroes & Villains part one – Create great Characters
  2. Heroes & Villains part two – Create a story for your Hero & Villain

Writers 8-12

  1. Writing For Fun – Picture This
  2. Writing For Fun – Pets & Animals
  3. Writing For Fun – Old Character, New Story

Future Lesson Plans

Lesson plans on the blog will be updated regularly. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the topics to be added as we go:

  • Mindmapping
  • Plotting
  • Writing Anthology Pieces
  • Grammar & Tense
  • Essay Writing
  • Story Pyramids
  • Character Collages
  • Setting
  • Dialogue
  • Non fiction beginnings
  • Fiction beginnings

If you’d like to see a lesson plan developed on a particular topic for a particular age group, please feel free to email me at: mailto:Dee@deescribe.com.au

PUBLISHED AUTHOR PROFILES & TIPS

If you’re a published author who’d like to be profiled to our worldwide readership, you can also contact me at the above address.

So if you’ve got kids who love writing or you think you might enjoy the activities and tips I’d love you to visit my new blog Writing Classes For Kids.

I will continue to provide my Tuesday Tips at this blog. If you have any ideas of session plans you’d like to see or things you or the young writers in your house would like to know, feel free to comment in this post.

Happy writing:)

Dee

INSPIRING YOUNG WRITERS

Last week I ran a school holiday writing workshop with a group of very enthusiastic young writers on plotting and planning your story .

We made up stories from photos, puppets and all kinds of  things. We talked about beginnings, middles and endings of stories – about working out what your character really wants and how they are going to achieve it.

A box full of characters can be fun to choose from

The young writers ranged from 7 to 15 years and they were so inspiring.

I was also lucky enough to have writerly friend, Karen Collum drop in for the workshop with her niece, Elysse

Pictured are Karen, Sarah, Elysse and me.

SCHOOL HOLIDAY WRITING WORKSHOPS – THE LESSONS I LEARNED

I had a hectic but wonderful time doing school holiday writing workshops in our local area. I met some amazing writers of all ages and was truly inspired by their talent and enthusiasm.

I presented two workshops for adults, Explore the Writer in You and Writing for Publication. I also did a workshop for 8-11yo’s titled Where Will My Story End and one for 12-15 yo’s titled Heroes and Villains – Creating Great Characters.

The workshops were a first for all of us. The shire had never done something like this and it was a first for me because I had never done workshops in a library where there was no teacher supervision and you didn’t have the facilities you would find in a normal classroom.

It was clear early on that PowerPoint was not going to be an option. I was fine with this because I prepare all my workshops with a Plan B just in case the technology doesn’t work on the day.

The adult workshops ran at night and apart from a few hitches with the venue, everything went according to plan and there were lots of eager writers.

The children’s writing workshops ran during the day, starting with the youngest age group first. At 9.30am, a line of mostly shy, mostly small, mostly eager small people around 8 year’s old trickled in.

Lesson 1 (for me): When planning a workshop for this age group that’s not in a classroom, make your early activities flexible. At 9.30 the first child arrived and at 10.05 the last of them trickled through the door. I admit I was used to a school setting where you walk into a classroom and everybody is already there.

Lesson 2: Include 11yo’s in the next age group. Their writing abilities and maturity take them to the next level. (I realised that ideally, the workshops should have been for 3 groups. 8-10, 11-13 and 14-17.)

With a group of mainly quite young writers of very varied abilities, it soon became apparent that some of the activities I had planned were too advanced for this group. Many of the kids seemed to be there not because they were avid writers but because their parents were looking for something to do with them for the school holidays.

I adjusted my thinking and made the activities less ‘instructional’ and more ‘fun’ as I went and most kids seemed happy with what they were doing. The child drawing on himself in the corner was a concern, but he did produce a story and seemed happy enough. I paid him as much attention as I could but in a room of 25 kids who mostly didn’t know each other and needed help with their stories, my time was thinly spread.

Lesson 3: Limit school holiday groups for younger children to 15 because it’s up to you to supervise them and the talents will be very diverse.

I learned some lessons from the workshops but I also had a heap of fun. During the week we did everything from plan an author marketing campaign to create some fairly unique plots and characters.

Do you have any tips for author visits or funny stories to tell where things didn’t quite go according to plan? If so, we’d love to hear them.

Feel free to share in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing:)

Dee