How to write a picture book, a novel, a blog post or something else that’s cool.

A few years ago, my friend, muse and partner in crime, Mitch Vane, said, ‘Jen, you should write and illustrate your own picture book.’

Me?

Illustrate?

Scoff. Splutter. Blush.

I have NO QUALIFICATIONS.

I’m not a REAL illustrator.

I failed art. (Mostly because I never turned up…)

I haven’t done 5000 hours of life drawing.

I haven’t even been to Paris!

But, you know, those kind words from Mitch got me thinking.

Here is a picture of Mitch in her studio. (Btw, Mitch will be hosting a masterclass in the Duck Pond in July 2021):

The thing that really got me thinking was her sage advice, ‘Just draw some pictures and write a story around them.’

Say what?

You mean you can do that?

Isn’t that arse about?

Shouldn’t we write the story first then illustrate the WORDS?

Not necessarily.

Because you know what?

You can do whatever the fuck you want!

OMG! How liberating!

The other thing that hit me like an ACME anvil was this.

I do it ALL THE TIME.

I rarely write a blog post without first scrolling through my phone.

Or walking in the garden with my camera.

Or flicking through a mag or a beautiful picture book or rummaging around in the Witchy Cottage.

The Witchy Cottage. Full of surprises. And, um, magick. 😉

I have written entire NOVELS because I saw a pretty picture and thought, hmmm, there’s a story here somewhere.

This image from Eric Orchard inspired me to write my middle grade novel, The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack.
The end result of small imaginings!
Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford. Published by HarperCollins.

So, dear reader, next time you’re stuck for words, search some place other than your journal.

As I always say to my beautiful duckies, think visually!

Look at pretty pictures.

Dive into your art books, your kidlit, your magazines, even your Netflix (ahem).

Just get a pile of random images into your noodle and let them mish mash around.

Then see what comes out. See what flows.

You might end up with a Danny Best


Ava and Graini in the old junk shop (which is based on a REAL shop in Northcote, Victoria, that is full of PRETTIES!). Image from, The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack. Illustrated by Lucinda Gifford.

Or a novel.

Or a blog post.

Or a screenplay.

Or a picture book!

Notes from my creative writing book— immerse yourself in words AND PICTURES every day.

Train your brain, dear reader, train your brain to think visually, to think laterally, to think creatively.

And remember how lucky we are because we get to DO THIS!

Go full on, dear reader. Go. full. on.

Jen xo


Coming soon, a blog post (or maybe a museletter) based on this picture…

Not on my mailing list and therefore can’t get my museletters? Holy shizzle! That’s bloody awful. Get on it! Click here!

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