« My Why Picture Books Are Important essay is up on the #PictureBookMonth website | Main | Comic: Being Thankful »
Thursday
Nov272014

Writers: Didn't Have Time For #NaNoWriMo? Try 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day (and why I need to do this)

If you're a writer who has no trouble banging out thousands of words a day on a regular basis, you can skip my 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day Writing Challenge.

This post is for others who fit into one or more of the following situations:

- You started NaNoWriMo with good intentions but ended up falling further and further behind until it was way too late to try catching up.

- You've always wanted to try a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo but knew you'd never have the time to write 50,000 words in November.

- You have a day job and need some motivation to squeeze out extra time to do regular writing.

- You have kids, so life is often crazybusy with parenting duties and an unpredictable schedule. You need some motivation to carve out writing time here and there.

- You're an illustrator who is trying to flex your writing muscles. A writing challenge with achievable goals could help you get that picture book or other writing project finished.

- You already make a living as a writer or are a published writer, but have always wanted to try another genre...but your paid/contracted work has always come first. Even with limited time, you want to get that personal writing project of yours off the back burner and make some steady progress.

In my case: I am a children's book illustrator who has just started writing picture books. I love my work and I love making picture books, but I also have not forgotten my roots: I have been writing books for young people for as long as I can remember. None of them have been published, though I have been steadily working on my craft; judging from the gradual improvement in quality of editorial rejection letters, my writing has been getting better. I've gotten close (tantalizingly, frustratingly close) for my latest novel, but "close" is not the same as a book contract. I also had my YA novel-in-progress nominated for the SCBWI Sue Alexander "Most Promising For Publication" Award.

Then a rejection ended up (in a roundabout way) getting me a book illustration contract with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, and my novel-writing got put on hold. It's ironic but a part of the business: I've since had more than one editor express interest in seeing my novels, but I haven't had as much time to work on my writing because of my contracted illustration work.

With what I've learned since then, I'm realizing why my already-written novels didn't sell and why they SHOULDN'T have sold, and have shelved them. I've started working on a new project which I'm pretty excited about, but don't spend nearly enough time on. It's been a crazy year for me: I illustrated three Judy Blume chapter books, 10 Judy Blume covers, finished the illustrations for my first solo picture book (WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? with Simon & Schuster), illustrated RUBY ROSE ON HER TOES (picture book by Rob Sanders, with HarperCollins), did sketches for MITZI TULANE: PRESCHOOL DETECTIVE (picture book by Lauren McLaughlin, with Random House), some sketches for SEA MONKEY AND BOB (picture book by Aaron Reynolds, with Simon & Schuster), did my first book tour, talks and workshops at conferences, then had family health issues.

But something else I've learned: life is ALWAYS going to be crazybusy, one way or another. I will NEVER have the luxury of time that I had in my pre-published days, and that's not a bad thing. If I want to achieve my goal of getting my novels for young people published, I have to adjust and squeeze out writing time however I can.

Hoping some of you join me in the Challenge! Here's more info about how to participate. Feel free to post below or in my Writing Challenge: 250, 500 or 1000 Words Facebook page. Or you can just participate without letting anyone know...it's entirely up to you.

Reader Comments (3)

I'm going to do your challenge! I'm starting with 250 words a day because I know I can do that, and because initially I'm doing nonfiction, which seems to make it harder for me to crank out words. Thanks so much for posting this!

My own post is here: Writing challenges for the rest of the year

December 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatharine Swan

Yay, Katherine! Good luck with your writing challenges!

December 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Ohi

Thanks!

December 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatharine Swan

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>