While there’s no “official” marathon this year, it’s easy to write your own.
Your Goal: During the month of February, write (or, for illustrators, create thumbnails for) one picture book a day, until you get to 26. This gives you two “rest” days, or, in a leap year, three.
A writing buddy helps you get through the month productively! If you don’t have one, line up some non-writing friends to check on your progress and provide encouragement.
The Basics: For the marathon a picture book is defined as (1) a story or narrative, (2) with a beginning, middle, and end, (3) for children, and (4) intended to be illustrated. They’re generally, though not always, meant to be published in a 32 page format. Given the speed of the marathon, your picture book DRAFTS (for that’s what they’ll be) will be very rough. What you hope to capture is the basic plot, characters, and emotion of each story.
Why Do It:
- Generate a lot of material in a short amount of time.
- Get your creative juices flowing by forcing yourself to write daily.
- Circumvent your internal naysayer, who won’t have the time to be criticizing.
- Practice a writing practice.
Think about YOUR PURPOSE for doing the Marathon. Is it to generate material that you’ll spend the rest of the year revising? Learn the ins and outs of a new type of story (say, fairy tales)? Get really, really good at writing plot? Learn how to develop characters quickly?
Pick what’s important to you at this juncture in your writing career. Then, start writing.
Does a month-long marathon seem overwhelming? One of the benefits of doing it for that length of time is to really focus your mind on picture books. When you need to write 26 in a row, you’ll be looking for ideas all the time, and the smallest encounter can trigger a great manuscript draft.
But, if you feel you really can’t commit to a month, try starting with a mini-marathon week!