By Wendy Greenley
If you want to be a writer, having no idea what to write is a big problem.
Fortunately, this has never been a problem of mine. An interview of Oliver Jeffers last year by Maya Lim resonated with me. Ideas are everywhere. Scraps of paper litter my home recording moments of inspiration. So, what’s my blank page problem?
Having GOOD ideas! Picture book worthy ideas (the age group I generally write for). Ideas that I feel passionate about, and have marketability. Because, let’s face it, some ideas are too similar to something already on the market (great minds DO think alike), some ideas are ahead of their time (when subversive veers off into downright controversial), some ideas are for the wrong age group, others don’t lend themselves to illustration, and some are just too niche for wide appeal.
My initial drafts of LOLA SHAPES THE SKY (releasing March 12, 2019!) had several of these issues--and now it's a a beautiful book. Is it some rule-breaking book unicorn?!
Sorry, but nope. It's the product of revision. Re-envisioning a plot while retaining the heart and passion that inspired the first draft. So my advice to all writers staring at a blank page--show the blank page who's the boss! Sure you can sit and stare at it, but why would you? When a page is blank, you don't have anything to work with. This is why I like paper drafts instead of computer prose. Paper feels like a draft to me and I don't hesitate to write ridiculous ideas. I cross out, circle, list options and shoot arrows linking ideas in every direction. I get something down on that paper.
If you're really having trouble coming up with ideas--you're in luck! January is #StoryStorm month. Author extraordinaire Tara Lazar has a superb annual idea-generating series (once called PiBoIdMo, targeted to picture book writers, now StoryStorm for all genres) that helps writers develop their creative spidey-senses. A FB group and past posts are online for extra support during the remaining months. It is a genuine treasure and while I didn't come up with LOLA's story as a direct result of any single post, the first draft was written during a January PiBoIdMo month when my ideas were flying! Yay, StoryStorm! Follow @Taralazar on Twitter or FB NOW so you don't miss it!
Hope you're ready to fill that blank page with some love.
I'll be blogging again for #newin19 at newin19.weebly.com and at wendygreenley.com. Follow me @wendygreenley if you don't want to miss that (or all the other new picture book releases from my #newin19 debut picture book author friends!)
Wendy Greenley's eclectic interests led her to be a dried flower artist, ice cream scooper, microbiologist, attorney, Cub Scout leader, Art Goes to School Volunteer and president of the local Friends of the Library. Now she writes full-time for children. She lived in NJ, DE, PA, England and TX before circling back to the Keystone State. She is represented by Stephanie Fretwell-Hill of Red Fox Literary. You can find Wendy at wendygreenley.com or on Twitter @wendygreenley.
Her debut picture book, LOLA SHAPES THE SKY, illustrated by Paolo Domeniconi, encourages children to find the joy of being themselves.