A few years ago (well into my career as a Children’s Author and, um, Creative Writing Guru) I googled the term, How to Write a Picture Book.
The results were kind of hilarious.
And depressingly useless.
Basically, I got articles such as:
How to Write A Picture Book: Five Easy Steps
How to Write and Publish and Market and Sell a Book for Children. Quickly.
How to Write a Bestselling Children’s Book (and become Rich and Famous)
Whatever the title, the articles basically ran like this:
1. Write the story
2. Read the story to a kid
3. Get someone to draw the pictures
4. Send the story to a publisher
5. Retire to The Bahamas
If you look at those five steps, the one that is the LEAST HELPFUL is write the story.
Write the story.
If I knew how to write the story I wouldn’t be running to Aunty Google, begging for advice.
Or would I????
Beginners Think the Answer can be Found on Google
Then the clanger.
Beginners often believe that writing the story is the easy part. A teensy hurdle to hop over. Something they can do with a spare weekend. (If you’ve read my creative writing book, See Me Jump, you’ll know I was guilty of this. Shamefully guilty.)
Until they actually sit down to write the story.
Stories, whether they are for kids or Fully Qualified Humans, are slippery. Elusive. Endlessly frustrating.
People spend a lifetime learning to write fiction. Not an afternoon on Google.
So, dear reader, if you just googled, ‘How to Write a Picture Book’, and Aunty Googs sent you here, well, um, trust in the kindness of strangers, okay? (Me being that stranger.)
Consider this the loving shove you didn’t know you needed.
What’s Carrying You? What’s Spurring You On?
Now here’s the conundrum. The other part of the five easy steps nonsense.
Writing original, clever, entertaining stories for children is NOT easy. And never will be. It is, after all, an art.
Writing prescriptive, highly commercial or let’s-make-a-splash-and-coattail-on-a-poo stories for children is… kind of easy.
Especially if you have a team of experts (and marketing whiz-kids) behind you.
You see, children’s books written by celebrities perpetuate the myth that anyone can write a book for kids. And sadly these questionable (and, for my money, rather sinister) little books also fuel the Bahamas dream.
But writing stories is no different to playing the violin.
You’re gonna make some gawd awful noises when you first put bow to string. Pen to paper. Quill to inkpot.
And you’re going to have to front up. Over and over again. Even on days when you’d rather eat ice-cream—or scrub the drop dunny with your hairbrush.
You’ll confront humiliation.
All the fun stuff.
But if there is love, gusto and genuine fascination spurring you on, you’ll be fine, dear reader.
You WILL find your way. And so, I hope, will your beloved stories.
Aren’t you glad you landed here?
Yes, indeedy! Starting in 2022, I will be hosting LIVE office hours in the Duck Pond.
That’s a live Q and A session ON ZOOM. With me. Every month.
I cannot wait to connect regularly with all our creators and talk everything children’s literature, writing, illustration and anything else YOU care to quack about.
To join the Duck Pond or to find out more, click here and let’s get quacking.
2022, I declare you magical!
To join my mailing list (and receive sweet little bonuses and regular museletters to boost your creativity and lift your spirits), click here.