"Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book." - Stéphane Mallarmé
I’m in a slump…
I’m no longer writing daily.
I missed some monthly writing goals in August.
I got 2 rejections this month – I’m very selective in my agent submissions so these and the other 6 I’ve gotten this year feel very personal!
And I’m having a baby next month – I feel as though the walls are closing in on my writing time (and maybe my sanity)!
So I did the unthinkable.
I heard a knock…and let her in. And now my inner critic refuses to leave.
She’s watching cheesy Hallmark movies, flaunting celebrity children’s books, and hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock.
It’s time to kick the critic to the curb. Here’s my plan of attack:
And I’m keeping in mind Josh Funk’s tweet that Kate DiCamillo’s BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE was rejected 494 times!!! And his LADY PANCAKE picture book received 35 rejections from agents before he subbed directly to publishers through the slush pile.
What tricks do you employ to get out of a writing rut?
We’ve discovered the “Terrible Twos” in my household. I recently read a list of picture books for Little Kids with Big Emotions. Some of the books were a little too abstract for my 2-year old so I’ve created my own list with a focus on the grumps to help us deal with the roller coaster of tears we’re experiencing.
Grumpy Pants (2016) by Claire Messer
Wash the attitude away with simple text and illustrations that pack a punch!
Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus (2016) by Edward Hemingway
I love this fresh approach to big emotion and the way the illustrations reveal the cat’s parallel story so a child can see consequences for his/her actions. It should be sold with a dinosaur costume!
Maya Was Grumpy (2013) by Courtney Pippin-Mathur
Absolutely love how Maya’s hair shows an escalation of her mood, while grandma’s imaginative redirection leads to a clever culmination!
BE QUIET! (2017) by Ryan T. Higgins
While this book does have a grumpy character, it actually makes the list for another reason…the onomatopoeia line that brings my daughter to hysterics no matter her mood!
Augustus and His Smile (2006) by Catherine Rayner
Beautiful illustrations reveal a sad tiger’s journey to reclaim his smile, which could lead to a fun scavenger hunt to banish the toddler blues!
A couple other books that my daughter enjoys and are particularly fitting with her stage of development include:
Jabari Jumps (2017) by Gaia Cornwell
A great book about overcoming fear and a repeated read-aloud requested by my daughter!
Music Class Today! (2015) by David Weinstone, art by Vin Vogel
Rhyming text and song guide a child through the uncertainty of new experiences, resulting in trying new things.
I read this great parenting post on avoiding the Terrible Twos label and using the term “Boundary Stage” instead because, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” (Peggy O’Mara) I’ve seen this with my daughter as she reflects my words back to me daily. I try to label her emotions and identify her frustrations, no matter how trivial they seem to me. This sets the foundation for how she will handle frustration in the future, just as picture books do! As a writer, I’m looking at this developmental stage for inspiration – a new picture book idea has sprouted already! For anyone in the trenches with me, here’s another parenting post on this period of self-discovery…for both toddler and parent.
There are so many amazing resources out there for aspiring children’s book writers. Here are 5 that I love!
Kate Messner’s Picture Book Math & Why You Should Write Something New
Kate starts with 365 “flashes of ideas” and breaks down how many become published books. The take-away, WRITE!
Miranda Paul’s Path to Publication Checklist
I’m at 50 and counting...Next time my daughter and I use play-doh, I’ll check off #32. And watching the Boss Baby film will knock off #47.
Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (previously PiBoIdMo)
Tara’s month-long picture book idea challenge is a great way to brainstorm ideas. She has also compiled in one place, links to all her amazing guest author blog posts from 2012-2014 with more coming soon.
Beth Ferry’s My Euphoria at Discovering Anaphora: The Use of Literary Devices in Picture Books
Literary devices are great tools for picture book authors. I had no idea I was writing anadiplosis poems to my high school boyfriend! And in Part 2, Beth suggests writers steer clear of periphrasis!
Goodreads Picture Book Lists
Great lists organized by publication year with approximately 100 books each year (2015-2018).
Want additional KidLit resources, click here.
Want to know more about the process of writing for children, click here.
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