FROM "MINGLE" SESSION WITH CLAUDIA MILLS:
Subject matter and age of character determine the format of the book (chapter book, etc.)
“I thought, ‘What is my strongest memory of third grade?’ Then I wrote about that.”
“I decide on a structure ahead of time, such as ten chapters of five pages each, then stick to that.” (These are ms. pages, and will make a chapter book.)
Shorter chapters force a peppier pace.
FROM HER CLASS, “Inch By Inch, Row By Row: How to Succeed as a Writer in an Hour a Day”
Make a goal to write just one hour a day. It’s amazing what you can get done.
How to find it: cut corners and lower your standards. In any job, there are many aspects of it. You don’t need to excel at all of them.
It’s a bad use of your time to spend time trying to compensate for your weaknesses. Sharpen your strengths and pay someone else to do the rest.
Let your own kids share the process. Talk about and show your rejections, for example.
Use an hourglass! Then you can start your hour anytime. [Darlene adds: and then the kids can see when you’ll be available.]
What to do in your hour:
Not doubting yourself.
Yes start with a creative ritual, which triggers your body to be creative (herbal tea).
Madeline L’Engle: “If you leave your work for one day, it leaves you for two.”
Keep a notebook of “nice things and accomplishments.” (She has a section that says, “Things to worry about.” Another section, “Ways to be my own creativity coach.”)
Have a good critique group.
Trust the process.
(She told an interesting story of when she writes scholarly articles. She never refers to other sources. Then, when it goes through peer editing, people scream, “Why didn’t she refer to Expert Y and his famous research entitled Z?” So when she gets the article back, she goes and reads all the things they referred to.)
How to judge a critique group: Listen to and judge the validity of the criticism that others give to others. Then you’ll know the quality of the feedback you’re getting.