writing goals

All posts tagged writing goals

New Beginnings

Published January 23, 2021 by Elsa Pla

A new year has begun, full of hope and positive expectations. Moving forward after so many months of sadness and anxiety won’t be easy, but definitely possible and almost certain. I’ll be taking it slow—there’s no other way for me—but steady and with new-found purpose. The darkness has cracked and light is finally getting through. Things will surely get better. Not right away, I know, but soon.

My writing goal for this year is simple and therapeutic: Have fun.

I’ll be jumpstarting my writing with the following well-known exercise:

Identify an author whose writing style resonates with you. Find a few passages in his or her books that you love and admire. Copy those passages, word for word, imagining that you are the one who’s creating them. As you do, reflect on the author’s use of elements of fiction. When you’re done, jot down what you learned about the writing craft that you could apply to your own writing.

I’m starting with one of my favorite authors: Hilary McKay, and her recent book: The Time of Green Magic.

From the British Council Literature website (https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/hilary-mckay):

“Hilary McKay is most well-known for her novels for middle-childhood readers (approximately 9-13 years), particularly her two award-wining series, The Exiles and the Casson Family Series. The families she depicts are usually endearingly eccentric and chaotic, flawed but loveable, and she creates authentic and well-rounded child characters with whom young readers can easily identify. Critics often praise McKay’s talent for domestic comedy, which enables her to address serious issues (from everyday worries to bullying, adoption and family secrets) with lightness and humour. McKay writes with humanity and compassion and depicts her characters’ emotions acutely and perceptively, yet her comic touch, along with lively dialogue, maintains an upbeat tone throughout her stories.”

What I admire most about McKay as a writer is how well she understands the child’s mind. Her characterization is superb, depicting all the different emotions and states of mind of children, both positive and negative. I hope to learn something about how she achieves this through this exercise. Plus it will be fun!

Closing the Year

Published December 21, 2018 by Elsa Pla

Greetings from my little writing corner of the world.

It’s not easy to find (or steal) alone/focused time to write when you’re working full time, are also an artist, and you’re being distracted by the crazy and terrible stuff happening in our country and the world.

Still, I press on. Very slowly. Easy goals.

Since the last time I posted, I’ve completed three bilingual picture books, each with an accompanying illustration; I’ve started two bilingual chapter books; and I’m almost done with an adult short story. I have a few other projects, old and new, waiting in my whenever-I-can-find-time-for-this file. And that’s pretty much as good as it gets.

I’ve also attended a couple of  SCBWI conferences, participated in a couple of local art shows, and continued to post occasionally to my blogs:

Middle-grade book recommendations: The Reading Café

Thoughts on art and living a simple life : Catch a Butterfly

My online art portfolio: E. Pla Art

This year I’ve added three more writers to my ever-growing list of favorite children’s authors:

Katherine Rundell, author of many wondrous books including Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms and The Explorer.


Lauren Wolk, outstanding author of Beyond the Bright Sea and Wolf Hollow.


Jonathan Auxier, author of many fantastic books including The Night Gardener and Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster.

The Night Gardener by [Auxier, Jonathan]   

I’m currently reading an encouraging collection of essays and speeches, Barking with the Big Dogs, by beloved author Natalie Babbitt.

My goal for the new year is simply to continue moving forward with my writing and art by taking advantage of all the opportunities that may come my way.

May you all have an incredible 2019!





Published September 6, 2015 by Elsa Pla

I continue to be very busy, so I must accept the fact that, for the time being, I’ll be able to post on this blog only a few times a year.

I’ve been working on several short writing projects, and I’ve been gathering ideas for more. That’s all good.

I’ve also been searching for recent (2010-present) outstanding children’s books for the middle-grade crowd (children 8-12 years old).

A few favorites :

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis (companion book to Elijah of Buxton)

Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan

West of the Moon by Margi Preus

The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett

These books have three things in common: an engaging story line, exemplary writing, and a sense of significance.

That third element has been on my mind recently. As a reader, I prefer to read stories about stuff that matters. I want stories that will touch me or move me in some way. Stories that will open my eyes and heart to important truths. In short, stories that will help me become a better person. And as a writer, those are precisely the kind of stories I want to write.

So there you have it: SIGNIFICANCE. I will add it to my goals as a writer.

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight.” –Ursula K. Le Guin


Back on the Writing Wagon!

Published January 7, 2013 by Elsa Pla

my youngest daughter (right) and me (left)

I fell off the writing wagon for a while (a couple of months!). That’s okay, though. It happens. It’s part of the adventure of writing. The important thing is to get back up, get back on, and not give up.

I’ve decided to change things a bit in The Write Town. Instead of blogging only about writing exercises, I’ll be blogging about anything having to do with writing and the writing life. That will give me more topics to blog about and, thus, make my writing life a lot easier.

As a start to the new year, I’d like to share a bit about myself and my work:

I’ve loved poems and stories for as long as I can remember. My father, a kind of renaissance man, instilled in me a love for literature, philosophy, and science. My grandfather was a poet, and from him I learned to love poetry, as well. The first book I owned was a collection of fairy tales my father gave me when I was six. I still have — and treasure — that book.

I’ve always been an avid reader, and I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In high school and college I wrote romantic poems and musings, but I put aside my writing dreams when I became a wife, mother, and science teacher. I barely had time to scratch my head! I still read a bit and sporadically wrote in my journal, but that was pretty much it.

Sixteen years ago, after moving to Denver, I decided to give my writing dreams a chance. I took a writing class and started experimenting with stories and articles for children. But since I was a single mother of three and a middle school teacher, it was still difficult to find time to “really” write. I was always so tired! But in spite of everything, I pressed on.

I obtained an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The experience at VCFA was life-changing. I became part of a wonderful community of like-minded writers who have stayed in touch throughout the years, encouraging each other and celebrating each other’s successes.

My MFA qualified me to switch from teaching science to teaching reading and writing, but, of course, it didn’t guarantee that I would become a well-published author. In seven+ years, I’ve only published one short story in a minor magazine and one poem in an obscure poetry collection. I’ve also had a storybook almost published by an imprint of an important publishing house (the imprint folded and my story ended up in publishing limbo). I don’t give up, though; I continue to send my stuff out to publishers whenever I can.

A year-and-a half ago, I decided to use the internet to communicate my work, both as a writer and a teacher of writing. I dove in, sink or swim, and started a writing website (www.writecook.com) and a reading blog (www.elsapla.wordpress.com), both for middle school kids. A year ago I retired from full-time teaching and started a journal blog (www.catchabutterfly.wordpress.com) where I share thoughts on living a simple, spiritual life. I also began selling middle-school writing lessons on the TPT marketplace (www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Seller/Search:elsa+pla), and I started this blog: The Write Town.

My online presence has been slowly growing, which is super exciting. Writers need readers and vice-versa. Thanks to the internet, a writer can have an audience, whether or not his or her work gets formally published, and a reader can access a world of enjoyable and useful text.

Now that my children are grown and I’m semi-retired from the classroom, I finally have time to “really” write. My present goals are to continue to use the internet to grow as a writer and teacher and to be a part of the growing community of amazing writers who share their talents through cyberspace.

I have accepted that the publishing world is changing and that writers must adapt and search for creative ways to communicate their work. I’m learning to have faith, stay calm, and carry on, no matter what; to love the work and stay true to my dreams; and to continue to strive to be the best writer that I can be.

“The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.” –Ray Bradbury

“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing… the rest will follow.”  Jane Yolen

That said, the last writing assignment I shared was:

Do a character analysis of a main character(s) in a favorite book and then of a main character(s) in a story or novel you’re working on.

Here’s a useful character analysis chart:

Know Your Character

I’ll be working on this exercise this week. Please join me!