Posted by: nancyisanders | November 7, 2013

Improving Your Writing Skills

HPIM7366 - Version 4

I have 10 nieces and nephews and 15 great-nieces and nephews. Each time another great-niece or great-nephew is born, I like to crochet an afghan, tie a fleece blanket, or sew a quilt. Lately I’ve been making quilts. I just finished the last quilt that you see in this picture when I got the news another great-nephew was on the way! This is probably the tenth baby quilt I’ve made so far.

So I got out my current favorite quilt pattern and made notes about how much yardage to purchase for the 9 different fabrics needed to make this quilt. I got a baby shower invitation and discovered the baby nursery would have a woodlands animal theme. I got my coupons in the mail for my favorite fabric store. I marked on my calendar the date I’d trek the 30 miles out there. I was all prepared.

Then I went to the dentist. Our dentist is out near my husband’s work in a city about an hour away. As Jeff and I started to drive home, we saw my favorite fabric store…right there…by the dentist! I never knew it was there.

We were racing home to get dinner on the table for our kids who were driving in for a special family evening. We didn’t have time to stop. But Jeff suggested we just take a peek to see if this store had the woodlands animal fabric since I’d never seen it in the one I usually shop at.

We screeched to a stop and I ran in only to discover they had a wonderful selection of woodland animals baby fabric that I’d never seen! And they were all on sale!

I didn’t have my coupons. I didn’t know the exact measurements. I didn’t have much time. But I didn’t want to miss this amazing opportunity.

So I whipped through the aisle of nursery prints while Jeff tried to download the coupon app on his iPhone. Within 15 minutes, I picked out all 9 different fabrics, guesstimated the amount I needed of each, and we were back in the car heading home. We made it back in time for a lovely dinner celebrating the one year anniversary of our son and his precious new wife.

Why am I telling you this?

Because picking out the fabric has always been an agonizing step for me. I have spent literally hours trying to coordinate colors and prints for crafting the perfect quilt. Some of my quilts, when they are all done, fall short of that “perfection” and don’t look as pleasing to the eye as I had hoped.

But this time I amazed even myself. I picked out an amazing palette of fabrics and knew just what went well with what. I know this quilt will be awesome!

It suddenly dawned on me. After making 10 quilts, I had unknowingly mastered one of my greatest challenges in quilting.

It’s the same with writing. Many writers struggle with that one precious manuscript and spend years trying to make it perfect. Or they just write one or two manuscripts and feel frustrated with the whole process so don’t really write much any more at all.

I want to suggest something. Make it your goal to just write. Write that next manuscript from beginning to end. Then write another. Then write another. Learn to write a children’s novel in a month. Then write another novel. Then another.

Write a picture book in a month. Then another. And then another.

Finish that nonfiction article you started writing for Highlights. Then write another one. And another one. Make it your goal to write 10 nonfiction articles in the year ahead and submit them to Highlights.

Why? Because you’ll automatically improve as a writer. Guaranteed.

And you just might be surprised to discover one day, just as I was when we stopped at that fabric store, that you have mastered your greatest challenge as a writer.

And that’s a good place to be.


  1. I think you are handing them a treasure, we have a crochet blanket given to me by my husbands grandmother, it is one of our treasured possession. Great photo

    • Oh, what a precious treasure you have! Thanks so much for sharing.

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