Goal Setting

Unless you’re writing flash fiction, your writing project is likely to require patience and perseverance. And if you’re like most writers, sticking with the process through the murky middle can be difficult. How can you set goals that work for you, stick with them, and deal with the inevitable twists and turns that any creative process entails? In today’s live session, we’ll tackle the art of goal setting, with an eye to how to find the flexibility and fun as we work toward a goal.

And don’t miss this week’s printable, a cheat sheet to help you set your next goal, and map your way to success.

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Find a Strength, Create a Strategy

You’ve heard people say that the best way for writers to improve is to read, read, read. It’s true! When writers read, we soak up strategies and skills that can only improve our writing. If you want to supercharge that growth, why not get intentional about your reading and learning? In today’s live session, we’ll break down a simple process to help you identify what’s working in your favorite books and make those same strategies work in your own writing.

 

 

Don’t miss this week’s printable, a cheat sheet to help you apply this strength-finding process to your own work. Enter your email below to grab your copy.

 

If you’re 13 or younger, you’ll need a guardian to use their email and fill out this form for you. This extra step helps keep you safe online.

May Ink Splat: Erin Entrada Kelly

This month, we talk to award-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly. She talks to us about the value of characters, her preferred method for writing first drafts, and what she hopes you’ll take away from Hello, Universe. 

Keep reading! As always, we’ve got a writing challenge for you, a fantastic interview, and some updates about Society of Young Inklings. Want to catch up? Check out last month’s Ink Splat here.

 


Writing Challenge

This month’s challenge is straight from Erin. She says, “One of my favorite writing prompts is from my friend Laurie Calkhoven, who leads meditations for writers. She asked a very simple question during one session: How does your character feel about their name? It’s such a great character-building prompt because our names are so personal to us. My response ultimately became a chapter for Valencia in Hello, Universe.

 

Submit your responses by emailing submit@younginklings.org and you might be published on our website!

 


An Interview with Erin Entrada Kelly

Hello, Universe centers around four middle-schoolers – painfully shy Virgil who has a crush on brave, near-deaf Valencia, Kaori the psychic, and Chet, a bully. What aspects of yourself do you see in your characters? In writing them, how have you drawn from your past experiences?

As writers, our past experiences always influence our characters and stories, even when we aren’t aware of it. I tend to write about introspective kids who never quite fit in. That’s something I have in common with them.

 

Hello, Universe is your third published novel, and you’ve also written many short stories. How has your writing process evolved? How has it stayed the same?

Writing short stories taught me how to polish my craft, prepare submissions, shoulder rejection, and accept feedback, which are all essential in the publishing business. I hope my writing process never stops evolving! One thing that has stayed the same is my preference for writing first drafts in longhand. It’s been that way since I was a kid.

 

Your characters are always fully fleshed out and feel like they could jump right out of the page. What’s your top tip for writing nuanced, real characters?

Thank you! My top tip: Know what your characters are afraid of, and then force them to face those fears.

 

How do characters interact with story and setting in your creative process?

Characters take precedence over everything. I let them lead the way and follow them wherever they want to go.

 

What do you hope young readers take away from Hello, Universe?

There are many ways to be strong.

If you could tell your young writer-self something, what would it be?

One day, all your dreams will come true. Just keep going.


Society of Young Inklings News

  • Summer is a perfect time to tackle your writing passion projects. During the school year, you’re guided in a learning journey by teachers. In the summer, you’ve got the opportunity to take the lead and follow your curiosity. Where will your curiosity lead you? We want to support you as you find out. From mentorships to writer’s circles, to online courses, Click here to read about our programs that can help you push that passion project forward.
  • Join our society! We’ll send you a FREE Inklings Starter Kit with tips and tricks personalized to your creativity style.

 


 

A special thanks to Erin Entrada Kelly!

 

Erin Entrada Kelly received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe, the 2017 APALA Award for The Land of Forgotten Girls, and the 2016 Golden Kite Honor Award for Blackbird Fly.

Erin was raised in Louisiana, but now lives in the Philadelphia area. She is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA. Erin’s short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize. Erin is mestiza and identifies as Filipina-American. Her mother is Visayan and lives in Cebu, which is why many of Erin’s Filipino characters speak Cebuano rather than Tagalog. Learn more about Erin by visiting her website at www.erinentradakelly.com.

 


 

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Stages of Growth for a Youth Writer

You’ve noticed your child has a knack for writing. How can you provide her with guidance, support, and an outlet? How do you know if a mentorship is right for him now or in the future?

 

The truth about what will help your child now, and what he or she might need in the future may surprise you. Like one parent I spoke to recently, you might be surprised to learn that your child’s obsession with graphic novels may be building the very storytelling muscles that he or she needs. Or, you and your creative youth may be shocked to learn that classes or internships that build marketing, entrepreneurial, teaching or public speaking skills are vital to many professional writers’ toolkits. The choices you make now will make a huge difference for your creative youth, and we’d love to help you navigate. That’s why we put together a special one-hour workshop especially for parents.

 

In this workshop, Society of Young Inklings’ Founder and Executive Director, Naomi Kinsman, will share the common stages of growth that youth writers move through. Parents will come away with a roadmap for the possible path ahead and practical strategies for supporting their creative kids now, through next steps, and as they move toward college and careers of their own.

 

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Developing an Idea

When you compare your first inkling of an idea to someone’s finished book, you’re likely to feel discouraged. Ideas are flighty, feathery, and to be treasured. Instead of judging your ideas, why not play around with them a bit and see where they might take you? You’re likely to find that once you develop an idea, the layers you add start to give it heft and weight, and soon, you have a true book idea. Wondering how this process might work? Join us for this Facebook Live mini-lesson, where we’ll play some games and discuss strategies for developing your next idea.

 

Don’t miss this week’s printable, a cheat sheet to help you add layers to your idea and start to explore its possibilities. Enter your email below to grab your copy.

If you’re 13 or younger, you’ll need a guardian to use their email and fill out this form for you. This extra step helps keep you safe online.

What Makes Summer the Right Time for a Mentorship?

Summer is coming, and along with it, the opportunity for a change of pace. What will this summer bring for your family? Vacation? Day trips? A summer reading challenge?  How about a creative writing project?

What makes summer the right time for a mentorship?

During the school year, students are guided in a learning journey by teachers. In the summer, students have the opportunity to take the lead and follow their own curiosity and passion. Where will this curiosity lead them?

Here are some interesting challenges past mentees have taken on:
  • researching dark matter, and writing both a research summary and a fictional (hilarious!) story about the antics of a dark matter character
  • drafting a fantasy novel from start to finish
  • starting a writing club and working together to write short stories to share at the end of the summer

Mentorship is Student-Driven

Writing a passion project is an entirely different experience than writing in response to school assignments or prompts. I love talking to youth writers before and after a passion project with a mentor. Before a passion project, common complaints include a lack of focus and stamina, and the inability to add layers, depth, and details to their work. After completing and sharing their work, writers report a seemingly magical transformation. Focus, patience, confidence, and unexpected skills have shown up. How has this happened, they wonder? Why was writing so difficult before, and how is it now so much easier?

Mentorship Provides Guidance and Connection

While youth can certainly take on a passion project on their own over the summer, a mentor helps focus and support the experience. The regular accountability, the ability to problem-solve along the way, and the encouragement from a mentor who is also passionate about storytelling, all make a significant difference. In particular, those difficult writing moments—and we all have them—are much easier to face and work through with the help of an experienced guide.

Mentorship Builds Self-Awareness and Confidence

Mentors ask questions that writers don’t ask on their own. In fact, asking a helpful question is one of a mentor’s most important tasks. Mentors watch closely to identify what a mentee can’t yet see. Through exploratory questions, mentors help their charges consider the next possibilities and take next steps. As writers speak with mentors about their work and about their creative strengths and weaknesses, they develop a strong self-awareness and confidence. In this way, a summer writing project is one of the most powerful experiences a student can take on. After the project is done, the benefits reach far beyond the finished story that sits on a shelf, deep into the next school year, and to many experiences beyond.

Is a Summer Mentorship Right for Your Young Writer?

Whether you’re traveling or staying home, mentorship is flexible and can work with your schedule. A summer writing project adds that little touch of magic that makes any experience more meaningful. Whether the mentorship focuses on writing a memoir of summer experiences, a novel-length fantasy, or creative practice through short prompts and games, young writers will come through the summer having grown from the experience. And the best part? The creativity is likely to spill over to the whole family, too.

 

Wondering how you can take part in the process, and support your young writer along the way? Check out our RX for Youth Writers: Five Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Common Blocks in the box below.

 

Finding the Heart of a Scene

 

Sometimes young writers tell me they feel like a scene is boring. They wonder: Should I add something exciting, dangerous, explosive? Today, we’re focusing on how to make the kinds of scenes that keep readers turning page after page. What keeps them reading might surprise you. Action is compelling, but the secret to engaging readers has much more to do with the why than the what. If you’re scratching your head and wondering how heart can matter more than action, or how you can make the why work in your writing, this Facebook Live session is for you.

 

 

Don’t miss this week’s printable, a cheat sheet to help you find the heart of your next scene. Enter your email below to grab your copy.


If you’re 13 or younger, you’ll need a guardian to use their email and fill out this form for you. This extra step helps keep you safe online.

Rx for Youth Writers: How to Help Your Creative Child Overcome Common Blocks

 

For strong writers, blocks can be wildly discouraging. When words usually flow smoothly from pencil to page, obstacles are tricky to navigate. Struggling writers develop persistence and patience with every writing task. However, stronger writers don’t always build those skills. They don’t need them … until they do.

 

When a strong writer stumbles across a challenge, sometimes they think: I must not be any good. If their words don’t come out easily, frustration erupts. Strong writers need creative supporters to help them move through these challenging moments. They need someone to ask, “How’s the writing going?” They might shrug and say, “I got bored,” or their nostrils may flare and they may shout, “Ugh. Leave me alone!” Translate these responses to, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I used to be a good writer, but something happened.”

 

This frustrated, confused, or even angry writer needs someone to assure them that writing can be challenging. For everyone. Even for genius writers such as J.K. Rowling. To move from good to truly great, our strong writer will have to learn to identify weaknesses without running from them, and how to practice new skills that don’t come quick as a snap. They will have to develop courage to revise and to face difficult feedback.

 

As parents and educators who support strong writers, we need a skill set of our own. We need to learn to identify blocks for what they are and have a set of strategies for talking them through. That’s why we designed a cheat sheet just for you: Rx for Youth Writers: How to Help Your Creative Child Overcome Common Blocks.

 

We know it’s not easy to dive into these difficult conversations, but we promise that the creative youth in your life will be immensely relieved when you speak up. Writers need to write, after all, and the longer we let blocks set in, the grumpier we’re likely to become. You’ll be giving them a gift, and eventually—though maybe not at this exact moment—they’ll be grateful that you did.

 

Don’t forget to download your cheat sheet! And, as always, feel free to reach out to us to learn more about ways that Society of Young Inklings can support you and your young writer.

 

Meet the Chameleon

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring a few different creativity styles.  Today, we’re looking at the fifth and final style, the Chameleon. Unlike the others, the Chameleon blends styles or switches styles the way some people swap hats. If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to take our creativity styles quiz. The quiz will help you determine if you have a very specific style, or if you’re more of a Chameleon. You’ll also learn more about how you approach different kinds of challenges. The point of taking the quiz and exploring your creative style isn’t to stuff yourself into a limiting box, but rather to understand why some strategies work better for you than others.

Today, let’s talk about the Chameleon.

 

Chameleons are adventurous and willing to try solving problems in new ways. Of all the styles, Chameleons are least likely to say, “I can’t!” Our resilient and resourceful Chameleons gain extra superpowers when they consider which hat fits best for the challenge at hand. Rather than being distracted by the many options available, their fine-tuned focus builds momentum and creative flow.

The Chameleon’s Strengths:

  • You’re flexible in your thinking and willing to try multiple approaches when solving problems.
  • When you hit a block, you nearly always find a way around.
  • You’re optimistic, energetic, curious, and eager to explore.

The Chameleon’s Weaknesses:

  • Since you don’t have set strategies that you always use, you can spend a lot of time choosing an approach before you even start solving a problem.
  • You may feel less clear about what works for you, and thus find yourself stumped when you hit a true block.
  • You may become frustrated trying to do things someone else’s way, rather than trusting your own approach or intuition.

Here are some efficient strategies that work well for Chameleons.

 At the Start of a Project:

  • Create a Map

Before you start working, take a few moments to decide how you’ll approach your project. Give yourself a simple series of steps that each feel fun. Do you like listing? Figure out how you can use a brainstormed list to start, and then continue to revise your list as you go through each step. Or, you might decide how you can make each step a game. By focusing your enthusiastic, beginning-of-project thinking on a map, you will have an idea of where to go and what to do once you’re knee deep in the project.

During Drafting:

  • Try Mixing It Up

Drafting can feel like day after day of the same. Keep things fresh for yourself by having two or three different approaches to drafting. Maybe you draft in three different places in your house, or maybe you have different warm-up routines. You can keep a sense of surprise for yourself by listing six different ways you might draft (locations, approaches, speeds) and then roll a dice to see what today’s writing session will look like.

While Revising:

  • Invent Two or Three Editor Characters

Keep your thinking fresh by stepping into the shoes of different personalities. One character might be highly attentive to detail, while another might love storyboarding and untangling plot snarls. Name these characters, and take on a specific persona as you work. In this way, you make revision into a game as you tap into different parts of your very intelligent mind.

When You Feel Stuck:

  • Identify Your Comfort Strategy

Before you get stuck, take some time to figure out the style that is most comfortable, cozy, or calm for you. You may be able to approach a problem from a variety of different angles, but when you’re tired, grumpy and in need of a warm cup of hot cocoa, what would truly help you move forward? Write down this strategy, noting any specifics. Will you invite a specific person to take a walk with you in your favorite park and brainstorm? Will you take out brightly colored post-its and pens and storyboard your problem out? When you’re stuck, you won’t feel creative and able to come up with an optimistic solution. Prepare ahead of time so you have this solution in your back pocket.

Try On Other Styles:

Experiment with the other styles to learn more about what works best for you.

 

Most Chameleons are a mix of two or maybe three of the other styles. It’s rare for someone to be equally drawn to all four approaches. What you may find as you explore is that some strategies just don’t work for you. As a flexible thinker, you might feel as though that’s a challenge to tackle. You should be able to do all things well, in all ways, right? When it comes to the creative process, the most important thing is finding a way to show up and to take steps forward. Give yourself permission to develop your own style, your blend of these personalities that works best for you.

So what do you think?

Are you a Chameleon? If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to take our creative styles quiz to learn more about the way you think. We’ll also send you an Inklings Starter Kit with more strategies and ideas to help you play to your unique strengths.