Monday, July 6, 2015

The Value of Time to Think

So far, my summer has been a whirlwind. Teacher's summer: taking care of the million things that you didn't have time for during the school year.

Aside from a plethora of doctor's appointments, errands, chores, cleaning and such, I am immersing myself in writing this summer.

I am taking an online course from the Children's Book Academy called The Craft and Business of Writing Children's Picture Books. A week in, I am finding it very helpful, especially the small critique group within the course.

But I am also finding that simply having time to think is what I have needed. I've read a number of quotes and memes about writers writing in their heads at all times, no matter if they are taking out the trash or soaking up sun on a beach. I can see truth in those quotes and memes.

More importantly, I think time to be and to think without dashing, harried, from one must-do to the next loosens up the brain and (after some decompression time) lets the creative thoughts begin to flow.

My brain loosened up enough to make a decision on a topic that was bothering me: where to go next with my writing. The picture book market today is dominated by (very) short, quirky, fun books that each have a unique flavor or selling point to them, whether that is the structure of the book, the memorability of the character or the concept or art.

I don't have a manuscript like that. I don't have a concept like that (yet). Moreover, as a teacher, I am drawn to, and need in our classrooms, longer picture books that may deal with some deeper topics and issues.

Do I spend the next few weeks coming up with and working on a short, quirky, fun concept? Or do I keep working on the manuscripts that I have already started even though they don't match the majority of today's picture book market? One manuscript is about ready to send back in. Another I have started is a more introspective character driven story. Another that is ready for a critique group is a quieter tale with repetitive language.

Decision: Since these are stories I can't get out of my head, I devote time to them right now.

There's plenty of time for that short, quirky, fun concept after that. The beach sounds good . . .


  1. Love that quote. Just posted it on my FB page! My understanding of the PB market is that publishers just wants short quirky ms. Interesting that you as a teacher want more than that. I think that deserves a blog post to itself!! What grade do you teach?

  2. Hi Carol, So glad you liked it! I am a literacy coach working with 3rd - 5th grade teachers. We use picture books as mentor texts to model exquisite writing and techniques, in reading to show examples of what we are teaching (main idea, understanding characters, etc.) and in content areas like social studies and science to show examples of our content (such as When Gogo Went to Vote and other books that deal with issues that help us explain our content). Short, quirky, fun picture books definitely have their place, but I wish publishers would give equal weight to picture books that we need in the educational market.

  3. It is good to hear that you will write what you want to write.


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