Getting organized doesn’t have to be hard. It can even be fun – fun to see the mess disappear! And it’s easier to manage schoolwork when you’re organized. That means more free time and better grades.
Wow! How cool is that?
Start with “stuff”. Things like old homework papers are easy to sort if you use the “touch it once” rule. As you sort out your papers, decide whether each paper is a keeper, or should be tossed. Keep only things that will help you later – for example, handouts you need for a test.
The most important part of managing your study time is to be consistent. Set a homework time for each day and stick to it. Your brain will be ready to work when study time rolls around.
Study even when you have no homework. Review your notes or read a new book.
Take a short break after studying for 20 minutes. You’ll remember more and have more energy.
Using flash cards is the best way to remember facts. You can carry them in your pocket. Practice everything from math facts to vocabulary just about anywhere – on the school bus, or right before a test.
Writing is my passion, and if you share it, then I think you are truly blessed! Here are some thoughts I have about being a writer:
Noted children’s author Jane Yolen has a slogan for writers: BIC. It stands for “butt in chair”, and it helps to remind me that I need to write in order to be a writer. Even when white paper stares me in the face, I must start somewhere, with a word, a phrase, a sentence. Pretty quickly the words add up. But unless I’m writing, nothing gets written.
Persistence is the most important quality in a writer. It may even be more important than native talent. Some very talented people have never been published. Why? Because after a few fits and starts their writing languishes in a drawer. I’ve never had an editor come knocking on my door, asking to see my latest work. I have to be persistent, learn the craft, and send my work out.
I never assume that my first draft is gold. I rewrite everything. I take my work to my critique partners. I write, then let the work sit. Sometimes, I actually throw things out. Well, I don’t throw them out…I file them away. They are, after all, my children, and I love them even when they’re really ugly.
Me with Kathy Whitehead (on the left) and Shirley Hoskins (right), my critique partners for the first ten years I wrote for children. We met weekly, and I credit these ladies with all my early success. I now have a wonderful new group of writers in Montana, and we meet twice a month. A critique group is a crucial aid to writing success.
So what’s the best way to become a writer? “Read, read, read.” I try to read everything, especially things in the genre in which I work.
Joining a group is a great motivator. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a nationwide professional support and information group. I’m a member; in fact, I have been both a Regional Advisor and Assistant Regional Advisor for the local affiliate when we lived in Texas, and I’m still very involved here in Montana. This brings me closer to what’s happening in the industry. I treat myself as a professional, and I take my own work seriously.
As part of taking myself seriously, I believe you are never too old and never too “good” to learn. The craft of writing is rich and I feel I’m still scratching the surface of skill. Part of my time learning was spent at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and my time there were two incredible years working with some of the best writers in the industry.
This article first appeared in Highlights for Children, May, 2006
“Here it comes!” my son Kevin shouted.
We felt a rumble beneath our feet. We heard a noise like a roaring train. Boiling water shot out of the ground and blew high into the air.
We were watching a geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone covers a big part of Wyoming, plus parts of Montana and Idaho. Geysers, hot springs, and mud pots fill the park. That’s because much of Yellowstone sits on a giant volcano! (more…)