Learn to Find Ideas in Many Different Ways
As an illustrator, you are comfortable finding ideas through art. This is a skill that may benefit you. However, to write a winning picture book you must pull from many different sources of inspiration.
Become a Student of Writing
Once upon a time, I was a martial arts instructor. It was common to receive students from other schools or styles, some of which had completed high ranks.
Teaching these students presented a unique challenge because they were comfortable with their old ways and found the greatest success using tried and true techniques.
It is extremely difficult to teach a student new things in this position. That is why Bruce Lee said, “In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup."
“In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup.”
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Write In Scenes
To eat an elephant, they say, you must take one bite at a time. Similarly, to write a picture book, a chapter book, or a novel, you must take one step after the other.
Chapters are an arbitrary demarcation of pauses in a story. Scenes, on the other hand, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They are complete stories. Mini stories.
It is much simpler to draft, review, and revise manuscripts that have clear scene breaks. They are less overwhelming, particularly if you are writing something long.
Writers Write a Lot: Rewrite and Revise
Don’t be satisfied with your first idea, your first draft, or your first completed manuscript.
Come up with 50 ideas, write from 3 different points of view, review with a critique group 5 times or more depending on length, revise 10 times. Or don’t. What I am trying to say is, become a writer.
Keep it Simple and Brief
Everyone, especially writers, can benefit from this advice. Use short sentences. Use short paragraphs. Use concise language. Cut out the garbage.
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
Write Non-Fiction, like this:
Forgo Text Altogether, like this:
Writers can't write wordless picture books. So you are in a unique position to flex your storytelling ability through pictures. Some of my favorite picture books are wordless!
Find a Critique Group for your Manuscript
One of the steps of Deliberate Practice is input from outside sources. You need other people to help you improve.
I wish you the best on your writing journey, and I sincerely hope you succeed in finding your place as a writer and illustrator!
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Hi, my name is Cory Shaw. I am an author and illustrator of books and book covers for children.
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