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Now that 2020 is, thankfully, behind us and we’re all making plans for the coming year as best we can, we hope you are looking ahead at 2021 with renewed energy. With that in mind, our mighty Regional Team has provided their favorite writing process and productivity tips to help shake off the holiday season and give us a boost for whatever project we’re tackling.

Here are our Regional Team’s writing process tips:

Sally Jones Rogan, Co-Regional Advisor

1. Record yourself reading your manuscript. It’s the next best thing to having someone else read it back to you.

2. If you do not yet have an agent, make sure to research before submitting a query. Find that certain look and feel of each publisher/agent’s list and mention why you think your project would be a good fit for them.

Nutschell Anne Windsor, Co-Regional Advisor

1. A tip for self-accountability if you’d like to become more consistent with setting a writing schedule: use a calendar and cross out (with a big colored marker) the days when you actually write. I’ve done this myself and seeing all the big “x’s” on my calendar is very motivating and helps keep me from missing writing days.

2. Be sure to read widely in the genre you wish to write in. You’ll find yourself inspired and you’ll get an idea of what’s already been done. 

Lisze Bechtold, Illustrator Coordinator

1. Have the computer read your manuscript to you. It won’t skip over an extra “the” or fill in missing words like your eye will when reading aloud. (Still read aloud, though, for rhythm.) Listening to an impartial voice also allows you to hear the meaning of what you’ve written.

2. Choose descriptive words that also convey the mood of the scene, and/or the feelings of the main character.

Kim Wildman, Assistant Regional Advisor

1. Raise your monitor or laptop to eye level with books or a stand/wireless keyboard set up.  Those long hours in front of the screen take a toll on your neck and shoulders. Stretch regularly and sit up straight and you won’t lose writing/illustrating time due to pain.

2. Stay on track: keep an empty pad of paper or 3×5 inch notebook next to your computer during your writing time for your List of Distractions. Then, when your mind starts to wander during your writing, take one second to jot that one word distraction down, assuring yourself you will get to it later. (Helps if you also turn off your Wi-Fi so you can’t go off searching right now).

If you have any tips that you’re looking to try out this year or tips that are tried and true, please share them in the comments below!

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.

Farrha Khan is the Managing Editor of Kite Tales, a Los Angeles Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators board member, and a writer in the nonprofit industry. When she’s not advocating for better representation, diversity, and inclusion in the arts and entertainment, media, and tech industries, or championing everyone to tell their own stories, she writes YA and short stories. Connect with her on Twitter: @farrhak.

Stock images by Nick Morrison on Unsplash.