How to Host a Children’s Writing Workshop

Children's writing workshopOne of the funnest jobs I have is running children’s writing workshops. Not only is it lots of laughs, but I’m always absolutely amazed by the incredible level of creativity in children.

Presenting workshops is a good way for authors to earn income and to build their profile. But the best reason to host children’s writing workshops is because it provides you with the chance to do something great for your community.

For gifted children, writing workshops enable them to hone their skills and provide a platform for them to share their works. Workshops also have many benefits for children who struggle with literacy. Children’s writing workshops should always put the focus on fun and creativity, in a way that English classrooms often miss. This is not a place for strict guidelines or constant nagging about spelling or punctuation or choosing a higher tiered word.

how to teach children to write storiesChildren should have the opportunity to showcase their creativity and storytelling abilities (and ALL children have great storytelling skills) regardless of their literacy rating. Have your kids leave your workshops proud and energized about writing and they’ll want to do more of it. That’s the real key to building literacy skills. If they enjoy it, they’ll write more, if they write more, they’ll improve.

Not sure how to start hosting your children’s writing workshop?

Fellow children’s author, Karen Tyrrell, and I recently presented a workshop on just this topic and I’ve put together a checklist from all our points. Download it, print it and use it to plan your first children’s writing workshop!

free download how to run a workshop checklist

Reaching your writing goals depends on how you start

Writing goalsDid you list writing goals as your resolutions for New Year? At the start of every year, naysayers claim resolutions are a waste of time, but I say they’re missing the point.

Instead of worrying that you won’t persevere with your writing goals to the end of the year, embrace the excitement of starting, for this is your most productive time.

Humans love starts. Start of the year, start of a project, start of every week. The newness of it makes starts full of potential. Anything could be achieved.

There have been plenty of studies to back this up. Here are some ways to embrace starts to meet your goals:

Start a new challenge or goal on a Monday

An article on Psychological Science shows that people feel more positive about their goals on certain days that mark a new period. On these days, they are able to distance themselves from any past failures with goals. So make Monday mornings your day to write a short list of steps you want to take over the week to get you closer to your bigger goals.

If you want to read the article:

Why Monday is the Best Day for Setting New Goals

Start every day with any (or all) of these to boost productivity and success.

There are lots of books and websites offering the right way to start your day. Though the tasks might differ, they all have a similar philosophy — start with self-focus and in a positive manner. Here’s a collection of a few:

  • Writing goalsThe Miracle Morning for Writers suggests 30 minutes to an hour filled with:
    1. Silence or Meditation
    2. Affirmations
    3. Visualising your day
    4. Reading something that improves you
    5. Writing your thoughts, plans, ideas
    6. Exercise
  • Morning Pages are part of The Artist’s Way. When you wake, before anything else, write three pages by hand. There is something inspiring about connecting the pen with the mind. It doesn’t matter what comes out, just write whatever you are thinking. This
    helps to empty the trash or clutter that has built up, clearing the way for a creative day. You’ll be surprised at the great story ideas that can come from it.
  • Confidence positions  are an idea put forward by Amy Cuddy. The basic idea is that by making a confident pose, such as stretching to make yourself big, or putting your hands on your hips, you’ll trick your brain into thinking you are confident. If you’re heading out to promote your books or network, this is a great way to start your day.  
  • Hug yourself. I attended a lecture by Professor Pieter Rossouw on the brain and learning. Showing some self care by hugging or patting yourself on the back stimulates the hippocampus into regulating cortisol and relieving stress. You can also look in the mirror, smile and say, ‘Hi, I hope you have a great day!’ Apparently this will set you in a good mood for the day, which is beneficial for learning new things, and even extend your lifespan by reducing stress.

How do you start your day? I’ve tried many of these approaches, at the moment I’m enjoying my Miracle Morning routine. I track my progress in my daily planner. You can grab the daily planner for writers as a free download.

Stay creative!


PLOT FOR A PRODUCTIVE YEAR – Your FREE 2017 Planner for Writers



The 2017 Planner for Writers is waiting for you, read on.

2017 is here – are you excited?

I think the first day of any year is always my most favourite day. There’s the idea of fresh starts, new projects, promising opportunities and a whole year to accomplish our goals.

Of course, it doesn’t really work that way. 2017 is a measurement, a date. It no more cares about my hopes than 2016 did. I have the same amount of time to dedicated to my writing and publishing ventures as last year, and the year before. Still, I’m ridiculously excited.

I’ve no complaints that I want to blame on 2016, it was quite a productive year. My positives included:

  • Purchased and moved into a beautiful old Queenslander
  • Became involved in the literacy program at my school
  • Gained my Masters in Creative Writing
  • Added Nygma, the cheeky bearded dragon to our family
  • Hot Doggy Digital Press published ‘Walk with the Tiger’ by Paul Smith

So if you’re feeling a little relieved that 2016 finally passed, why not make yourself a list of your accomplishments? You may have more tiny moments filled with action than you first thought.

Now, for your present.

2017 planner for writers

There are multitudes of planners and diaries available, in stores and online. Some boast schedules from 6am through to 9pm, while others are more open to your own creative input. Really, it just depends on your needs. When I had my dog grooming business (the original Hot Doggy), a timetable for appointments was necessary. As a teacher, I preferred my day separated into class sections. As a writer, I want flexibility to make notes and jot down ideas. When I can’t find a planner to suit my needs, I make my own.

And that’s what I did.

For you (okay, and me).

The 2017 Planner for Writers was inspired by the many posts online about bullet journaling. I gave that a try, but just don’t have time to draw up every page, every day. Still, this planner captures the hand-drawn theme of journalling, with snippets here and there to fill with inspiration. And you can download it for FREE.

The planner is designed as an A5 insert for a planner binder (I use Filofax, but you can use whatever you like, or even bind with string). It could also be printed as an A4 document (by enlarging) or shrunk to a mini planner size (4 to a page), again, you’ll have to adjust where you punch the holes. If you choose to print to A4 paper, double-sided and keep the size at 100%, then it can be trimmed perfectly to A5 size.

Each spread of the 2017 Planner for Writers is two pages. On the left, the page begins with the month, and includes a handy date/day reference. I recommend putting a full calendar in the front of your diary, to quickly see any upcoming dates. A month by month planner would be handy too, to record future events. I downloaded mine from other sites, just search Pinterest and you find loads for free.

The rest of the first page is split into areas you should focus on to build as an author. First, you have your writing goals for the week. List the project you’re working on, this is to help you stay focused. Story status relates to the draft version— first, fourth, or final edits? Set yourself a goal. It could be a word count, a task, or the time you want to spend. Track your efforts and record your results. I’ve added the short story idea, because it can be a fun little distraction from your main project, without detouring you too much.2017 Planner for Writers

You’ve got a section to record your blog posts, ideas or actions needed. There’s a spot to prompt you to come up with a new marketing idea every week. Even if you’re just starting out, now is a great time to think about marketing. You could generate ideas to build your brand as a writer.

If you haven’t gotten into The Miracle Morning yet, I recommend you check out the book by Hal Elrod. There’s even a version of the book specifically for writers. The mornings I practice the routine, I’m WAY more productive! The circles are to track progress (just colour them as you go).

There’s a spot to write down any resources or products you need to purchase.

Here’s where the planner gets exciting for me. My good friend, Donna, said she didn’t like daily task lists as you have to rewrite all the unfinished tasks over and over. I created a narrow task list which sits in-between the two page spread. If you don’t finish the tasks that week, you just unclip it and move it to the next spread. The task list is page 108 of the download, so you should print that separately (you’ll want multiple copies). I’ve also added a bookmark, so you can easily find the page you’re up to.Free download writing template

The second page of the spread is your weekly view. Each day has a spot to record the date, the amount of water you consume (a goal of mine is to only drink water, tea and smoothies), space for appointments and your daily word count (which you could use to record time writing if you prefer). On the weekend, there’s a reminder to give some time to the family (which might include friends or pets (especially cheeky bearded lizards). There’s the cleaning checklist (sigh), a section for notes, which I use to write my affirmations, and finally, a spot to record which book you’re reading (because I need a reminder to save time to read).

Phew! That’s it. For now. I’ll be making up templates for lots of things, like goal setting, tracking, etc. And because I like to think I’m not the only person in the world crazy enough to plan absolutely everything, I’ll always share with you.

Want your planner? Fill in the subscribe box below, or in the sidebar, and it will open automatically. You can click on ‘File – Export as PDF’ and download it to print when you’re ready.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to comment, ask me on Facebook, or send me an email.

Let me know how you go, and feel free to suggest improvements for 2018!

2017 whooo!

Stay Creative