Holiday Plans

Hello Fellow Children’s Writers and friends,

Like many of you or at least some of you, I am in the middle of a two week holiday from the ol’ day job. So no doubt like many of you with a holiday coming up, before the holidays began, I started by making plans. Unlike many of you though, these plans did not include travel agents, suitcases, maps, money or even car tyre pressure checks (? Hubby does ’em) They did include cardboard, markers, pens and post-it notes. I made and followed a Scrum Board to help me stay on track and feel as though I’ve actually achieved something. I heard about this brilliantly simple tool from the website I recommended last week, namely the Duck Pond. Just like ordinary ‘to do’ lists this seemed to grow quicker than it was ticked off (moved) however unlike ordinary ‘To do’ lists I knew each day what I planned to achieve, i.e. which deadline was looming, what had to be done daily, what could realistically be done during that day and what I did actually achieve.

imageScrum Board with Short Story draft, Critique (post-it) notes, books and The School Magazines in the background

The ‘Done!’ column is surprisingly empowering. For my own sanity I put down everything including my twice a week walk with a friend, washing, ironing, social engagements, day job tasks and helping family members with their tasks. My 2-3 days a week walk for example goes for an hour so it was important for me to document to explain why no¬†writing was completed then. I put ‘no‘ in italics because even though no physical writing was done this is excellent story fodder and thinking time. We both work with and have our own children- who are not only much loved but also excellent story fodder.

The board is colour coded too, serving as a means of showing me AND the family exactly where all of my time goes. Pink is family and friends related; point taken people?! The orange and the yellow are writing related; orange for my own stories, submissions and this blog and yellow for the critique groups I belong to, which coincidentally happened to include me submitting for critique in the first week of the holidays. Bonus!

I often feel that I am not giving enough time to my writing and when you look at this Scrum Board, you’ll probably agree. However, if you were to look more closely, I’ve completed two draft mss in a week plus this blog post and a detailed critique of a fellow writer’s PB as well as read the critiques of my own short story. So even though there are far more orange tags in the ‘To do’ column, most of them refer to one final polish and submission of mss for the current plethora (OK maybe a slight exaggeration) of KidLit competitions due to close in the next couple of months. These are not big jobs, they will take time of course to ensure I have followed all the guidelines and put forward the very best submissions that I can, but they are not huge, time consuming tasks. So imagine about 5-8 of those tags moved within the next week (while I also complete all the personal and family stuff- hint, hint!) which is not in any way an unrealistic expectation. Also imagine that each time I move those tags into the ‘Done!’ column I remember to give myself a big mental pat on the back. So even if they don’t all make it into there by the end of the week, I’ll know I certainly haven’t wasted this holiday time.

Like with any great journey, if you make good holiday plans, you’ll get so much more out of it.

Farewell for now, fellow travellers
Savour the quest,

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A Recommendation

Hello Fellow Children’s Writers and friends and especially to that wonderful person (probably Mum) who has already checked this blog today to see if I’d posted, thanks.

It’s funny how much pressure we put on ourselves, pressure we wouldn’t put on anyone else. In my case, with this blog, it’s the expectation I put on myself to be able to constantly come up with new, insightful, knowledgeable and interesting learnings about the writing craft and industry. The thing is this past month hasn’t seen me do much of either, i.e. learning about the craft or industry as my day job, family and wrangling the washing or more specifically drying in the dismal weather we’ve been having has not allowed me that luxury.

What I have found and have been able to really enjoy and recommend though, is Jen Storer’s new¬†private Facebook page,The Duck Pond! So although this is not strictly about the craft of writing, it can be. Although it is not strictly about the industry, it can be. Although it is not always inspirational, it can be. It is definitely encouraging and it is definitely a place where you can relax in the company of like-minded people, writers and illustrators particularly those of the Children’s variety. It is a cup of coffee with a friend, a wine and cheese night with the girls (sorry male authors, I know there’s at least one of you paddling in the Pond) discussing the latest great book you’ve read or clip you’ve seen. Emma Thompson, among other things was today’s discussion topic, thanks to an early morning post by Mother Duck, Jen. It is a closed group for subscribers to Jen’s Girl and Duck newsletter (worth a look in its own right) or Scribbles course participants, but they’re easy enough to find @

I know many of you will already know about this delightful place as I’ve met several of you there, but for those who don’t I’d like to highly recommend a visit to The Duck Pond. Whether you just want to float around and soak up the ambience, perhaps dip a toe in, or maybe even venture into the water for an all out paddle and frolic with the other ‘duckies’, it will certainly be worth your while.

Farewell fellow travellers,
Savour the quest,

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