Thursday, May 30, 2013

Finding a groove

Sometimes writing is like squeezing blood out of a turnip, isn't it? The creative juices just aren't flowing, so what do you do? I discovered something about myself while on vacation over the recent Memorial Weekend. I wasn't in my usual writing spot, didn't have my typical routine to follow, and was experiencing constant interruptions. What I learned was that if it ain't working, it ain't working. Well, how's that for enlightening?

After a day gone bust with the next evening quickly following suit, it occurred to me that I really didn't care to repeat the same mistake. I packed up, went to the bedroom and shut the door. I sat back on a few pillows and let the glare of my laptop screen light up the dark. Aaahhh. A bit of familiarity and routine. I think the turnip shed a drop of blood.

Have you gotten any insights into what squeezes you best? What are some of your personal writing habits that get the creative juices flowing? I'd love to hear them! 

 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Favorites

What are your favorite books? Why do you like them? What is it about a book that makes you pick it up in the first place?

Those are questions I've pondered as I seek to get published. I want to incorporate and emulate my favorite books and authors. I simply adore Jez Alborough and Arnold Lobel books. Their illustrations are captivating and delightful. When it comes to children's picture books, I truly believe that the writing and illustrations must be harmonious. In my opinion, it's what makes the book. That's the reason I choose illustrator Ann Panning for my book Wordilicious.

Speaking of wonderful books with the perfect blend of word and art, here is a list of just a few of my favorite children's books: (Certainly not all-inclusive!)

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
Dibble and Dabble by Dave Saunders
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Imogene's Antlers by David Small
It's the Bear! by Jez Alborough
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
One Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova
Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant
There's a Mouse About the House! by Richard Fowler

I have read hundreds, probably a thousand-plus, books over the years with our seven children. One of the hallmarks of a good book, in my opinion, is whether you read it over and over again. A good book is one that I will purchase. A good book is one that moves the reader to either smile, laugh, cry, sigh, or simply feel good after closing the cover. One of the greatest pleasures I have as an author is seeing someone smile or laugh aloud when they read my books. That's why I write. I want to make people feel what I feel when I write them. 

 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Inspiration

What gives you inspiration to write? For me, obviously, it's my children. There is no lack of imagination in our house with this many people. I love to hear the broad range of conversation that goes on throughout our homeschooling day. For years my husband and I have kept notebooks full of the funny things our kids have said. It's incredibly funny to look back on them. I find myself bombarded with all sorts of ideas after reading those notebooks.

One of the suggestions I heard at a writing workshop was to implement writing prompts. Let's face it, the ink in the well is bound to run low at some time or another. A writing prompt such as a fifteen minute sensory, timeline, or point of view exercise can be just the thing to prime the pump and get the ink flowing.

A sensory exercise is simply listing the five senses and jotting down one specific, everyday childhood sense impression for each sense. The point isn't to write well even. It's to w.r.i.t.e. The same goes for making a timeline of your own childhood or your children's or your grandchild's. A point of view exercise is to focus on one particular behavior that drives you crazy and describe it from your perspective.

Honestly, I wasn't too keen on the idea of a writing prompt, but I gave it a try at the workshop. I was pleasantly surprised at how effective it was! I guess it's similar to what I'm always telling my children. You can't say you don't like ____(particular type of food) if you haven't tried it. So go ahead. Take a bite. You may just find ink running down your chin.

 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Revise, revise

I managed to do some revisions on two of my picture books this week. It felt great to be done with them. Revisions are not my favorite part of writing! It's like pulling teeth to me. I also took a stab at revising "Wordilicious." I'd gotten quite a bit of feedback on it, all pretty much saying the same thing, that it would be better as a series. Ugh. I kept putting it off, but finally decided to take a bite of that elephant. You remember, don't you? How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And now you know I'm not a vegetarian.

I'm also s.l.o.w.l.y. working my way through this hefty book:
It's not a difficult read, but it is over 1,000 pages in length. I'm a visual learner, so just looking at it was enough to make me feel as if I had the entire elephant on my plate! What is with the elephant analogy??? Apparently, I'm anemic. (I only wish that wasn't true.) I digress, however. Back to the post.

If you're serious about being a good writer, then revision is part of the process. So is gaining knowledge about your craft. Know as much about your profession, and everything it involves, that you can. I'm working on it.