Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ask Me Anything!

I've been bad. I promised a Friday night post and I was pooped! After three terrific days at the
horse show, I'm ready to get back to anything that has to do with writing and hope you are too.

Do any of you have questions about writing that you would like to ask me? This idea occurred to me after one of you emailed me last week with a really good question.

Writers: Ask me anything. I've been through the publishing process from rejection to publication and back again. If I don't know the answer, I'll find it for you.

Teachers, Parents, and Homeschoolers: Is there any area of writing that is difficult for YOU personally? Can I give you ideas for writing exercises that will help you meet state standards in a creative way? Tell me what you need or ask me anything. Since I get the privilege to work with kids at every grade level I have loads of writing activities that are just begging to be shared!

I'll look forward to hearing from lots of you. My answers will be posted under your question (comments) so that everyone can read them.


wanderlass travels said...

Hi Jan, that's extremely generous of you! Could u read my writing and give me some professional comment. he he. I want to be a travel writer/photographer. Thanks in advance. :)

Jan Mader said...

I'm happy to read short pieces. I don't charge a thing for my blog activies, but I do have to charge a small fee for other readings. If your pieces are short, I'll read/give feedback the first time free of charge. I DO give honest feedback...are you comfortable with that? If so, send your selection to

Latte Lady said...

Hi Jan! You are so sweet! Congrats, again, on your weekend with Tango!

I want you to see a new widget that I got. You might like to have one. It shows other posts that are similar to the one that you are reading.

Also, I have a new blog! You can see it

I don't have a question right now. (too tired) I'll get back to you!


MiaZagora said...

Hi Jan! I do have a question. I have a second grader who doesn't like to write stories. If the curriculum asks her to write a story about, say, a trip to the Grand Canyon, she will say she can't write about it because she's never been there. We will then read all about the Grand Canyon and find out some facts...she will still say she hasn't been to the Grand Canyon. I tell her to pretend she you see where this is going? In the end I usually end up telling her to skip that part and move on. I know it's just second grade, but I also know she has a great imagination. She used to make up these elaborate stories about a pretend friend from another world with a different language and she would describe every detail. Any suggestions?

Jan Mader said...

Go beyond the pretend trip. Show her a picture of the Grand Canyon. Jump start her imagination before you even think about starting a real story. Ask her what she thinks would happen if the canyon filled up with water and was like a big swimming pool. Then ask her who or what would use the pool. If you are still getting a blank stare, you start making things up. Tell her that you're sure the mountain lions would have a contest to see who could make the biggest splash from their cannon ball jumps.

Ask her if they would have to make a diving board or just jump in from the side. Engage her more. Ask her what other animals might do in this huge pool. (Before this talk about animals that live in and around the canyon.)

Fun conversations should always preceed any fiction or non-fiction writing project. Word play should never end. Kids want to get back to the facts after wallowing in the joy of language and creativity.

Remember too, that good writing doesn't have to be long. Short writing is for all writers. Try to make it quick and easy. A simple well written sentence a day should turn into an informative paper. As an added plus, your daughter will remember a lot more about the Grand Canyon this way!

I'm going on and on here, but go read about braindropping. As young as your daughter is, you should have her braindrop orally. You quickly write down everything she says. You can both be race cars on a mission!

In the end, you'll have a list full of words or ideas about the Grand Canyon that can eventually be used in her writing project.

Hope this helps!

wanderlass said...

Thanks Jan for the reply and email link. I want honest opinion even if it stings. :)

Suzanne said...

Hi Jan

This is such a kind offer.

My question relates to my wip - when do you know to give up on a piece? I've worked on my current ms for so long that I feel I've written all the spontaniety out of it.

Jan Mader said...

This is an easy one for me, Suzanne, because I've been right where you are. Put your wip (work in progress)away. Maybe you'll come back to it and maybe you won't. Just don't give up on it.

What happens to me is that once I make the choice to file my work away, ideas keep running through my mind. Once I had a piece in a folder for over a year when something sparked an idea. I finished it and actually sold it to seven different newspapers at the same time.

I hadn't originally planned for this selection to be an article, but that's what it turned out to be. When I relaxed, the piece actually finished writing itself in my mind and then sold itself by its honesty.

I know you write longer pieces (novels!) but my guess is the same would hold true here. Put it away for a bit.

The key is to start working on something else entirely different immediately. Try something that you don't even want to sell...just something fun.

Things will fall into place, I promise. They just might not fall the way you had planned!

Suzanne said...

Thank you for this, Jan - a great help.


MiaZagora said...

Hi Jan - thanks for the tips! I'll certainly use those! Would you mind if I posted my question and your answer on my blog? It might help someone who is having the same problem. Just let me know.

Thanks again!