As writers we want to produce the very best story for our readers. Although, we would like to spend all our time writing, there are many other demands on our time. Family commitments, work, chores and more, in fact just life! To improve our writing skill, however, we need to invest in it.
There are multiple ways in which to do this. Of course, some require extended time commitments, while others are easier to slot into our time constraints. Here are some options for you to consider:
Furthering your writing education encompasses broad and diverse options. We can find many free on-line or paid resources, such as on YouTube, Masterclasses or Skillshare. There will also be courses, whether in-person or on-line for a day or evening class basis with a university or college course. These can be a large time and financial investment, so think carefully before committing to one.
Conferences and Events
You can find writing conferences held throughout the year by literary organizations, these range from free to paid. Attending a session with an expert and really focusing on their topic, is a great way to garner information and insight for your own writing.
There is a plethora of books on writing and you can either borrow from your local library or buy. Depending on if you want a general writing guide or a specific one, you should be able to find one that matches your needs.
Writing Apps or Services
There are many to choose from, including ProWritingAid, Scrivener, or Novlr, to name a few. It is important to thoroughly research these before purchasing, so it is in-line with what you need as a writer and how you write. Some have free trial periods so you can test them out.
This option does involve a financial commitment, as well as a time commitment. Hiring a writing coach can make a tremendous difference to your writing. It can take the form of informal mentors to biweekly counseling sessions. Decide which one suits your personality and learning preference.
Writer in Residence
Many libraries have professional authors, who spend a period of time holding presentations, but also give free advice, whether one-on-one or via email. As a free resource this is a great option for any writer. (I always connect with our local WIR every year).
You can find retreats held by literary organizations in most areas. They can be structured or informal. Most will entail a financial commitment. If you belong to a writing group, why not organize your own, with maybe a special guest or two to give a presentation. Or decide on what is the most common element everyone wants to learn, discuss or practice is and build the retreat around that.
A local writing group is a real bonus in helping you improve your writing. You receive feedback on your writing, discuss the multitudinous of writing topics, as well as receive encouragement and support.
No matter which option you choose, investing in your writing always improves your skill.
What have you done to improve your writing skills?
The first book of the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ was part of a project we started in 2007. We is my husband who is originally from Quebec/Canada and I am from Germany.
In 2002 we met in Playa del Carmen – Mexico where we lived for 8 years. The entire area is filled with Mayan history and culture. We wanted to engage the tourists into the culture and the local environment during their stay and believed that a story would be the most entertaining way for children to learn about it. Unfortunately the project back then never took off and we forgot about the story until this year. Our daughter loves books and so I suddenly remembered the story and started writing on it again. Weirdly enough it was really easy.
How did you come up with the title?
We wanted to change the title from the original project “Key to Paradise” to something new because the project itself was past. The first idea my husband had was ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ and I loved it.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
Yes, first published book. I always liked to write though. I have a blog in German about food for babies.
Weirdly enough ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ I write in English and then translate it into German. Don’t know why.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely. Besides being educational on culture and environment it is about empowerment for kids. Believe in yourself!!!
How much of the book is realistic?
The story line itself is fiction however all of the environmental information are researched and so are a the places, temples, Mayan gods etc. A lot of little details in the book are true to the believes of the Mayas and educate without the feeling of being educated.
I wanted to ‘un-dust’ the Mayan culture with this book. A lot of existing books or movies are either bloody or feel out of date and do this amazing culture no justice.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Mayan gods are based on Mayan believes however some of their relations are fiction. The boy and his parents are fiction.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
It is two of the characters. The gods Kukulkan and Itzama because one is the evil one and the other one the good god. It is the ying and the yang.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Probably the format. The second book is a lot longer and more intense than the first book. So it will have a different format than the first book.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? ‘
Dream, Believe and protect our planet.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
That I hopefully inspire children to do more research on culture and environment.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
My first poem was around the age of 8. It was four lines long and rhymed well.
What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?
Seeing the story come alive in the images and the first time I read a new chapter to my husband and he goes: “Wow”
What is your favorite theme/genre to write?
Writing for children and take them on an imaginary journey.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Any type of abuse
What book are you reading now?
It is a German book. It is a humorous perspective of a mother on her life. I can relate to it. My daughter is four.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I purposely read in German because I do not want to lose my mother tongue. A lot of the authors are German. Probably nobody you would know.
Do you see writing as a career?
I never did. But I really want the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ to reach children all over the world because I love the message and education in it. This is why we translate the story from English into German, French and Spanish.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
Unfortunately chocolate 🙂 I wish it would be an apple.
Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
I am rolling my eyes a lot when someone tells me a story. My daughter picked that up and we had a meeting at her kindergarden where we got told that rolling eyes is not a nice habit.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
On a balcony overlooking the ocean writing a book.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A lot of research goes into ‘Ti and the Magical Key’. Because a lot of evidence has been destroyed when the Spaniards conquered the Americas you find different opinions on the internet. At some point I have to decide which one to follow without really knowing.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
More chocolate 🙂
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Not that I remember. But then again my brain capacity diminished during pregnancy and never fully recovered. So I can’t answer that with certainty.
What book do you wish you had written?
What is your best marketing tip?
I am still figuring the marketing out myself. Currently we have a Facebook Fan page, twitter- and Pinterest account as well as a website. We are trying to get the kids involved and are writing personally to our fans to invite them into the ‘VIP Readers Club’ where we share secrets about the next book and adventures.
As well we started a blog on our website ‘Ti travels the world’ where parents from all over the world are sending us pictures of their kids with the book. I really love the blog. The pictures are amazing and are the best reward.
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
I am working on finishing the second book of the series.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The gods are playing a much bigger role in the second book and we are introducing a girl. In regards to the environment we cover the mangroves and cenotes/sinkholes.
Up until now all of my writing has been ‘free flow’. My initial idea or thought literally flows through my mind into my fingertips and I have no control over the work’s length, story arc or ultimate ending. From simple prompts I have created short stories, novellas and novel length pieces letting my characters lead me on their journey. I thoroughly enjoy being taken into situations and locations by my muse, reveling in the twists and turns and in some cases startling diversions. Once the words are written, however, like all writers, the revisions and editing take place to refine the manuscript.
However, my current idea has me in unfamiliar territory – planning and research. An integral part of this project is to make it an educational tool. The basic story is my own imagination gone wild (nothing new there then!) but as I will be incorporating factual aspects I will need to be diligent. Facts after all have to be factual and correct.
In my current research I have discovered some very interesting information – in essence I am learning something new every day. These facts are making my current project a unique experience for me and also an enjoyable one.
Have any of your projects taken you on an unfamiliar path?