I signed up for a two-day workshop about a month ago – Writing and Publishing a Children’s Book.
I wasn’t sure what to expect that first day. I’d never been to a writing workshop before.
There were 7 of us in total, including the instructor, Dawn Malone. As an icebreaker we all shared what had brought us to the workshop.
We were all at different stages in our lives, careers and writing. We were there to learn more about what inspires writing, the writing process and, of course, how to get published.
Next, Dawn went through all of the formats for publishing children’s literature: magazine stories, board books, easy readers for the beginning reader, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult and picture books–the format I want to focus on.
Then we talked about what inspires us to write and Dawn said something that hit me.
People always say to ‘write what you know’, but that can be limiting and should be expanded to ‘write what you know and what you are interested in’.
By writing what interests you, you learn and grow both as a person and as an writer.
For example, the main character in Joe the Bug Hunter is based on my son and his interest in bugs. I don’t know a much about bugs, but I have endless material to use because I am interested in learning how to rid my garden of all pests. Extremely interested.
Story ideas can also come from childhood memories. The characters in Audrey and the Bubblebath Kids, for instance, are based on the imaginary friends I had when I was 6.
Inspiration can come from themes other authors have covered, present experiences and observation of others.
Nim and Lil were inspired by the Elf on the Shelf and the fun my kids had discovering their tricks every morning in December.
And, the stories of the mice in Adventures in Homesteading all sparked from the sight of a little mouse tail in my garage.
When the workshop ended for the day, I couldn’t believe three and a half hours had already passed. I was brimming with all of the exciting new knowledge I had gained in that short window of time.
As I climbed into the passenger seat of the truck, Ray asked me how it went. I smiled, overflowing with excitement and told him all about it.