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Writing Childrens Books - Get Published By Creating MagicEvery writer who sticks with a manuscript beyond that initial flash of inspiration knows it: writing is hard. To be more accurate, writing well is hard. Anyone can throw words on a page. But to make those words into something that burrows into the heart of a reader you'll never meet- that takes considerable effort.
This is the point that separates the writers from the wannabes. Here is where you'll learn if writing is something you're meant to do, or if you just thought it would be cool to see your name on a book. There's nothing wrong with the latter; we've all jumped into activities we thought would satisfy some creative need, only to find we were way off base. I have half-finished knitting projects and lopsided ceramics gathering dust in closets as evidence of my own tinkerings. However, if you genuinely believe in your heart you're a writer but feel like you're wading through quicksand, then you may be missing a vital ingredient in the creative process.
In a brilliant speech to Publishers Group Canada, Richard Nash, former publisher of Soft Skull Press, said that most writers suffer a sort of postpartum depression once their books finally hit the stores. That's because the actual event that marks publication isn't what ultimately makes them happy. It's the series of connections leading up to publication. It's coming up with the idea, identifying the audience, writing the text that connects with your writers' group/agent/editor/ illustrator. It's getting those first glowing reviews. Writers are fueled by forging a mental and emotional bond with their readers, and getting feedback from them. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Now, Richard Nash was talking about authors who write alternative, outspoken books for adults. These authors often don't hear much from their readers after the pub date flurry dies down. Children's authors can continue to nurture connections with their readers after their books are published via school visits, blogs and social media sites. But that initial rush of insight must happen during the writing process for their book to become a reality.
I remember the first time I felt a connection with an author. When I was five years old, my favorite book was Green Eggs and Ham. This was partly because it was the first book I could read completely on my own. But there's another reason: I vividly remember the day I was reading the book to myself for the umpteenth time, and I suddenly realized there was more to the story than what was printed on the page. This book was about something bigger. It was about trying new things, being open-minded, not judging people too quickly. Though my five-year-old brain couldn't completely articulate these ideas, my heart understood them. And at that moment I truly believed Dr. Seuss had shared a special secret just with me.
That kind of magic doesn't happen in an instant. It takes work. It should take work. But if the work for you has become a chore, maybe you haven't found your connection yet. Here are some ideas for igniting that spark that will keep you going:
Identify why you love and want to write about your idea. What was it about your work-in-progress that initially excited you? Did it stir some deep emotion or relate to a strongly-held belief? Is the topic something you've always wanted to learn more about? Does it involve a subject you've spent years researching? If you have no passion for your core idea, you'll have trouble generating passion from your readers. Make sure your book is important to you on a personal level. Get away from the computer. Attend a conference. Network with other writers; hear lectures from published authors and illustrators, editors and agents; talk shop over lunch. Tap into the collective creative energy in the room. Learn what inspires those who have been writing for years. Steal some of their tricks to inspire yourself.
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