Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!
I’m a little late to the party.
But take it from me – it’s never too late to start your writing journey.
Aside from new year’s parties, I’ve always been a timely person. The “don’t veer from the plan” type. The “stay on the designated path” type. From the time I went to college I kept my blinders on, I received my degrees, worked for a time, went back and completed my masters, worked some more, started a family, worked some more, raised my children, volunteered and worked some more – and I loved absolutely every moment and still do. But one day in 2007, I sat down and did something I had always wanted to do but had put off – I wrote my first children’s story. It was very rough…alright, it was terrible, but I fell asleep that night knowing one thing. I had veered from the plan and taken a new path…and it felt so good!
I started my writing journey over a decade ago, and by 2010, I knew it wasn’t a hobby. It wasn’t something I could just forget and move on to the next thing. It woke me up at night with the “perfect” line that begged to be written down. It tapped me on the shoulder while standing in the grocery store with a new idea. It sat with me as I created and revised story after story after story. Writing had become a part of me and began to define who I was as a person. So, if you’re like I was and asking yourself the question – how could I even think of writing as a second or additional career, when everyone around me is thinking of retirement in ten to fifteen years?
I’m here to tell you, it’s NOT too late and you CAN do this!
I’ll turn 50 this year… and my first two picture books are coming out this fall. And I’m not alone. There are several of my writer friends that started their journey later after having another career, raising children, and now have books coming out this year.
Mind you, my soon-to-be published picture books didn’t happen overnight. I worked for a number of years learning about picture book craft. I read oodles upon oodles of picture books. I attended writing workshops and conferences. I joined writer’s groups – both locally and online. And most importantly, I found my beloved critique group. I submitted my manuscripts to publishing houses and racked up lots and lots of rejections. I worked on and continued to revise both of my picture books for close to 3 years before they were considered for publication. All of these things I continue to do today, including receiving my fair share of rejections.
Writing is a journey AND the journey is the best part. There are SO many amazing people you will meet along your journey. The writing community is vast and diverse and the most welcoming group of people I have ever had the honor to be a part of.
Now, you may be asking the same question I asked over a decade ago.
Where do I start??
It. All. Seems. So. Daunting.
Here are some fantastic resources I turned to when I was starting out and a few new ones. Please know there are so many MORE resources beyond the ones I listed, but these are some of my favorites.
- A critique group is a must. My critique group is my conscience, my cheering section, and my support. I wouldn’t be where I am in my writing journey without them.
- SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – One of the best pieces of advice I received when I started writing was from my dear friend, Becky Janni. She recommended joining SCBWI. It has been one of the keys to my success as a writer. scbwi.org
- Picture Book Builders – This amazing group of picture book authors and illustrators provide twice weekly blog posts about picture books, of course. Their wealth of knowledge in writing for kids and their wisdom makes this blog a true gem and one not to be missed. picturebookbuilders.com
- Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm – is a wonderful group to join as a beginning writer as well as an experienced one. The goal is to come up with 30 ideas during the 31 days of January. Tara pulls out all the stops with informative posts by picture book authors, illustrators, and industry professionals. taralazar.com
- Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 – is an amazing group of picture book writers and illustrators that come together to reach their individual goal of completing 12 manuscripts in 12 months. Julie, Kelli, and the entire 12×12 team are there to support you as you strive to reach your goals. There are webinars, tons of resources, and critiques. I guarantee that if you actively participate your writing will grow by leaps and bounds. 12x12challenge.com
- The Children’s Book Podcast with Matthew Winner – I listen to this podcast on a regular basis and continue to learn something new every time. Matthew is an amaze insightful host, who interviews children’s book creators and delves deeper into the creation of their books. The Children’s Book Podcast can be found on Apple podcasts and at allthewonder.com
- KidLit 411 – has an ABSOLUTE wealth of information on anything related to children’s literature. Run by the amazing duo of Elaine Kiely Kearns and Sylvia Liu. It is a MUST to check out! kidlit411.com
- Justin Colon’s #PBChat – is a weekly chat on Twitter. Justin brings in PB authors, illustrators, and industry professionals to “chat” on topics related to picture books. It is a fun way to connect with other picture book creators. Plus, Justin organizes the #PBChat mentorship program. justincolonbooks.com
- A few books about writing that I love!
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul
- Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft by Jane Yolen
- Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz
- The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
SOOOO…what are you waiting for? It’s a new year. A new decade. A perfect time for a new journey!
You got this!
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and creative 2020!!