Monday, September 7, 2009

Writing with a “Manageable, Reachable Goal”

Kate DiCamillo has just published her fifth novel, The Magician’s Elephant. She writes two pages a day. She calls that a “manageable, reachable goal” (see interview below). I think my students would have thought that was a manageable, reachable goal, too. I wish I’d known about that when I was teaching.

As your child heads back to school and begins to get assigned projects, that is a good piece of advice to bear in mind. Whether they are working on a painting, a book report, or an oral presentation they must give in front of the class, they can break down their projects into manageable, reachable goals. They may begin with a sketch, notes taken and page numbers jotted down while reading, and recording themselves on an audio cassette or in front of a video camera.

I have also heard Katherine Paterson and Linda Sue Park say that they write two pages a day. In fact, at the Texas Book Festival two years ago, I heard a child ask Linda Sue Park, “When you write, how do you know whether it will be a novel or a book of poetry?” And Linda Sue Park answered, “I do not write novels. I write two pages a day.” If she thought she was writing a novel, she said, she’d be too overwhelmed to finish it.

Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, and Kate DiCamillo have each won the Newbery Medal. They have each written novels. Two pages a day.


  1. What a fantastic interview, Jenny! Thanks so much for posting it.... And as the mom of a 9 year old and a 10 year old, I love the idea of "manageable, reachable goals."

  2. Bibliopinions, thank you for writing! I think the idea of "manageable, reachable goals" is true for all of us, whether we're 3 or 43 years old. We need to be constantly reminded (I should say, I contantly need to be reminded) to break down that one huge goal into many manageable steps.

  3. Thanks for visiting, Caroline. I was intrigued by the blog post on your site about the similarities between WHEN YOU REACH ME and A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. Having loved WHEN YOU REACH ME, I now want to read OWEN MEANY.