"I'm new to writing picture books. Where do I start?"
To which I said, "You know I'm not published right?"
But her questions reminded me of myself just a year ago. So maybe a newbie like me is a great person to lay out those first steps while they are still fresh in my mind.
There's the short answer of course, which is to write. But wouldn't that be dreadfully snide to say to someone? So here we go with the long answer which is going to take about 3 blog posts J
"Where do I start?"
|Beyond a blank piece of paper and pencil, |
joining SCBWI, creating achievable goals,
and reading are great places to start.
(Image by Constantina Dirica via sxc.hu)
Join SCBWI, the Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. The first year membership fee of $85 gets you a bimonthly magazine, access to the website full of information, connections for critique groups and events in your region. This is the first step after you say, "I want to be a children's writer." You will feel different after making this commitment.
"I'm really overwhelmed."
Honestly, this is overwhelming, because you want to do something you aren't trained to do. Everything you learn will be new. This will be true for a long time. You're welcome. :D
To transition your emotion from "overwhelmed" to "happily excited," think of this time as nourishing yourself rather than putting yourself on a rocketship to publication planet. If you get on a rocketship right now, it is more likely to end in a blazing crash than a contract.
So why put yourself through that turmoil? Give yourself the time and space to learn and enjoy the journey. Set reasonable first year goals. "Draft three 500 word manuscripts." "Read 200 picture books this year."
"There is so much information out there."
Yep, there is a lot of information out there, and unfortunately it isn't all good. And you don't have time to read it all. So you need to find the good stuff. It's hard to pick a few, but let's start with:
3 books on writing for children:
You Can Write Children's Books, by Tracey Dils
It's a Bunny Eat Bunny World, by Olga Litowinsky
Writing Picture Books, By Ann Whitford Paul
3 blogs for beginners:
Harold Underdown's Site, The Purple Crayon (Harold also has the book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books" which is very good. See how I snuck another book in!)
Kathy Temean's Writing & Illustrating. Kathy posts daily with tidbits on the industry, craft, events, and contests.