Posted by: nancyisanders | September 8, 2010

Goal Planning Workout

Awhile ago I hosted a mini-workshop at my local SCBWI Schmooze. We met at the nearby Borders and by the end of the session, we were all excited about taking our writing to the next level. Here are several strategies we discussed:

Set Personal Goals as a Writer
If you’d like to improve your craft and become a better writer in the year ahead, choose one or two specific goals to work toward. (Add other goals to this list if some come to mind!)

1. Become better at self-editing. Make a check-off list to help you self-edit your manuscript, including the following:
*Read each sentence and make sure it IS a sentence that starts with a capital letter, contains a subject and a verb, and ends with appropriate punctuation.
*Circle run-on sentences or sentence fragments. Fix.
*Circle every passive “to-be” verb. Change most to active.
*Check that your idea flows smoothly from point A to point B. Rearrange chunks of text if necessary.
*Check for genre specific items such as realistic dialogue and smooth transitions.

2. Become a better member of your critique group. (Join or start a critique group if you aren’t in one already!) Think about what you appreciate in the other members and make it your goal to improve. You can improve by arriving consistently on time, listening enthusiastically to other members’ projects, writing at least two positive comments on every page of their manuscripts, and wording criticism so that it is both constructive and encouraging.

3. Learn or polish basic grammar rules by reading at least one grammar book this year such as Write Right and The Elements of Style. Purchase an inexpensive copy of the Chicago Manual of Style at a used bookstore and refer to it often as you write.

4. Read a how-to book on improving your genre.

5. Read as many books in your genre as you can. Study them analytically. Type favorite sections out, word for word.

6. Keep a writer’s notebook of favorite author’s best samples, favorite character names to use in your projects, new ideas, and lists that can help you improve your writing.

Check back in for more tips on our Goal Planning Workout!

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