Life Lessons For Young People

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Prioritize Your Passions

Always keep your dreams in sight. Chart a life’s course around them just as an ancient sailor would chart a course using the stars.

“All we need do is find a star that is directly above the place we need to get to and it will point exactly the right direction for us.”

Let your dreams be your guiding light.

Even if you can’t build a career around them, you can carve out time to work on them each and every day. Make this your #1 priority.

Your goals, dreams, and passions will change and evolve. That’s okay. …


It’s time to make the news boring again

(Photo by Phil Shaw on Unsplash)

“After all, we are in the entertainment business.” — Rupert Murdoch

Two years ago, I was living in the United Kingdom when I got notification it was time for my routine visit to the women’s doctor. When I arrived at the doctor’s office, I dressed in my disposable gown and gingerly lowered myself onto the thin sheet of paper lining the cold examining table. As the nurse entered, I smiled bravely and returned pleasantries about the weather.

“Oh, you’re American!” she exclaimed as she pulled my legs out in front of me. Inwardly, I groaned. I knew what was coming…


Design your writing journey to reward incremental progress

great wall of china in the fall
great wall of china in the fall
Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. — Richard Bach

When I completed the first draft of my middle grade fantasy I knew it needed some work, but I still loved the plot and hoped someone would recognize its promise. Eagerly, I sent it to a literary consultant for feedback. I imagined the literary consultant liking my story so much she shared it with all her agent and publisher friends. Ha!

When the report arrived I tore open the envelope with trembling hands. This was it! The fate of my first book rested in this report.

Except that…


When you focus, you’ll take advantage of momentum

lens focusing on cherry blossom
lens focusing on cherry blossom
Photo by Jenna Hamra from Pexels

“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.” — Zig Ziglar

Have you ever experienced the frazzled feeling of having too many projects on the go? You feel like the Energizer bunny jumping from one project to the next without focusing on any of one of them long enough to make real progress.

I’ve been there many times. In March, I was trying to write a Parenting blog, master Pinterest, build…


And how to find the motivation to keep going after a rejection

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

We’ve all heard J.K. Rowling’s rags-to-riches story or Stephen King’s account of hanging all his rejection letters on a nail in his wall until the nail would no longer support the weight of the letters (then he hung them on a spike).

But did you know Herman Melville was turned down by multiple publishers and Peter J. Bentley even asked if his antagonist had to be a whale? He suggested something “with a more popular visage among young readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?” Can you imagine? …


Beware of ‘dud action’ in narrative beats

drums in marching band
drums in marching band
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

During the SCBWI Summer Spectacular I eagerly watched Deborah Halverson’s digital workshop, “Submissions Studio: Writing Queries, Strategizing Submissions, and Ten Ways to Translate ‘No’ to ‘Yes.’” After all, Deborah Halverson was an editor at Harcourt Brace before she became an award-winning author in her own right. She also founded the popular writers’ advice website DearEditor.com.

I’d heard a lot of the advice on querying, but when I reached the part of the workshop on narrative beats I sat up straighter in my chair. This was new.

“Narrative beats offer wonderful opportunities to enhance the dialogue and the overall story, yet…


Write leaner, cleaner prose without getting rid of all your adverbs

man writing in notebook next to computer
man writing in notebook next to computer
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

By now, I’m sure you’ve read the following passage by Stephen King:

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally,completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really…


Use momentum to your advantage to get your first draft done

Photo by Pedro Santos on Unsplash

The first draft of my middle grade novel took me ages to write (as in at least 6 years). If I was focused, I probably could’ve knocked it out in six months, even though I was busy teaching elementary school and having children.

Hindsight is 20/20, right? These days I know it’s possible to carve out time for daily focused writing sessions regardless of what else is happening in my life. At the time, I was tired and full of excuses. I would write in fits and bursts. A few chapters here, then nothing. I’d return to my manuscript, read…


Because it’s only when we’re living in line with our values that we feel the sense of satisfaction that comes with time well spent

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

A month ago, I clicked on the link to the following post: Stanford psychology expert: This is the №1 skill parents need to teach their kids — but most don’t.

The title got me. What was this special skill? Was I, like most parents, not teaching it to my children?

Usually posts like this let me down. After all, I’ve read hundreds of parenting articles over the years. I doubted there would be anything new in this one. But there was.

The article was written by Nir Eyal and contained insights from his latest book. He writes that “in the…


Because character is the bedrock of good fiction

characters coming out of book
characters coming out of book
Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

“If your character isn’t interesting, then your story will never be interesting.” — Tiffany Liao, editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

In January, I began the three-month-long Curtis Brown Edit & Pitch Your Novel course. We watched a series of videos, read the course material, and shared our progress with our cohort. For the final task we submitted the first three chapters of our novel manuscripts, along with a sample query letter and synopsis. Then, I tried to follow the advice to start on a new project while I waited for feedback. What if they thought my idea…

Becky Grant

Coffee-loving, car singing former teacher and mother of boys. Writing middle grade fantasy and helping others become focused writers at beckygrant.com.

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