Posted by: nancyisanders | September 10, 2012

Honing Our Craft

Right now I’m launching full speed ahead on new book projects for the upcoming year. I typically take most of the summers off from writing to get recharged and renewed. This schedule started out because my husband is a teacher and takes the summers off, but over time it has become a real time of refreshment for me as a writer. Then, when September hits I’m off and running, typing my way from morning until later afternoon through book contract after book contract from September through mid-June. It’s how I earn my living as a writer.

I just finished a deadline for a middle grade novel contract and am now knee-deep in preparing a requested proposal for a nonfiction reference book for students in junior high and high school. Then I have a couple of picture book manuscripts due at my agent’s.

Yup. From fiction to nonfiction, picture book to novel, a children’s writer can find herself covering it all.

Along the journey, however, I take lots of time to practice writing exercises and polish my writing skills and hone my craft. So I thought it would be fun to share in upcoming posts some of the ways we, as writers, can work to improve our writing skills. This not only helps land more contracts but it helps guarantee better writing success.

There are a zillion topics I can cover in the days ahead here on my blog such as:
* crafting realistic dialogue
* what to write to introduce your character when he appears the first time in a scene
* how to incorporate sensory detail in nonfiction to make it read like fiction

But I thought it would also be fun to ask YOU if you have any topics you’d like to learn more about. Are there any specific writing skills you’d like to have exercises or worksheets on to help improve your writing?

So, while I’m getting some ideas of my own to move forward with and post here on my blog, let me know some of your ideas, too!


  1. I have a question for you, Nancy. Do you find it difficult to hop between projects when they are so different? (I.E. Picture book to novel, fiction to nonfiction, etc.) What do you do to reestablish your focus on a project when you make that change?

    • Hi Beth! Yes, it’s tricky sometimes. But I either separate the different projects by days (ie work on the novel on Monday and then the nonfiction on Tuesday). But usually I separate the projects halfway through my days…ie work on the novel before lunch and the nonfiction after lunch with a nice long lunch in between. Then to reestablish my focus, I put on music related to the different project and sit in a different workstation (I usually create different workstations for different projects in my house.)

  2. My question is not about writtig, but how on earth do I find an agent???????
    One who would like to take me under her or his wing.

  3. I would love to see information on how to construct a well-written short story for children’s magazines. I am especially interested in writing mysteries. Thanks for any future blogs you may write on this.

  4. Hi Chris, Thanks for letting me know what interests you! After I finish discussing agents, I’ll make a note to discuss this, too.

    • Thanks, there is very little info on writing mystery short stories for children so I am very interested to see what you have to say. I had the privilege of attending a continuing workshop at Marlene Bagnull’s Christian Writer’s Conference in 2010 that you taught and I am constantly amazed at the wealth of knowledge you possess as well as how much you accomplish. God Bless. Chris

      • Thanks for introducing yourself more, Chris! Wasn’t that a great conference? It was good to hear from you and hopefully we’ll get to this topic soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: