Write Like a Pro: Back To School For Kids (And You!)

Mary Andonian

By Mary Andonian

You’ve purchased a gazillion school supplies, packed them in a paper grocery bag, and watched your child drag the crumpled mess up the road. As the yellow bus fades around the corner you breathe a huge sigh of relief: schedules have officially resumed for your kids and you.

An efficient schedule first requires a good Daily Planner. I prefer the familytime.mine mom’s organizer / 17-month calendar. It tracks against a school calendar so you can manage everything in one place.  Take it with you to the next soccer game and schedule in all your writing time between now and the end of the year.

Couple of things to look forward to: Chris Baty’s annual national novel writing month in November. Even if you only write nonfiction, you can still participate in this wonderful event. Also, if you can swing it, schedule a weekend writing retreat. I go on an annual retreat the weekend before Thanksgiving. If you’re like most moms, it’s your last reprieve before the frenzy that doesn’t let up until January 3rd.

Schedule a writing class. Why should your kids get all the intellectual stimulation? If you’re too busy to attend a workshop, consider online and correspondence course alternatives. Check out Writer’s Digest or Writers on the Rise (Christina Katz’s other popular eZine). Both have a slew of class offerings to choose from. (Can’t decide? You can always trust word-of-mouth.)

When my daughters were two and three, I signed up for a two-year Institute of Children’s Literature course.  This is one of the oldest, most respected courses for learning how to write for the children’s and teen markets. Regardless of which course you choose, the best ones are those that require you to submit your writing for evaluation. At some point you’re going to have to face criticism. Allow yourself to write poorly so you can move on to the next phase of your writing dream.

If you can’t afford a class, consider self-study. Purchase or borrow a few books to enhance your abilities. Some of my favorites: Julie Cameron’s The Artist Way; Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat (a screenwriting book that will help any writer of any genre); and Katharine Sands’ Making the Perfect Pitch (for when you are ready to sell the stuff you write in November).

I’m sure you know all about good books. Christina Katz’ Writer Mama no doubt led you to this column.

Mary Andonian is the agents and edtiors coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference, one of the largest writers’ conferences in the United States. In past years, she was Co-chair and Program Coordinator. She just completed her second book, Bitsy’s Labyrinth. Contact Mary at maryandonianwwconference AT yahoo.com.


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