Monday, February 7, 2011

Week 1 Tally (Day 7)

I’m looking at the stories from my first week (written with a flu-addled brain), and while one of them might have promise, they’re all pretty bad.  No, really bad, which they may have been even without the flu. I’m not letting that discourage me though, because I know from past experience that the act of writing every day sets me up to take advantage of the good stories when they do come along. Last year, my best “marathon” story didn’t get written until several weeks after the marathon was over.... And, in all of those bad ones, there are some lines in there that might get used, somewhere.
About half of marathon participants responded to the tally survey that was sent out over the weekend (writing and/or illustrating 755 picture book drafts). We’re excited that:
  • 52% are keeping a daily pace, having written a picture book a day last week (5 picture books). 
  • Another 20% kept up with four picture books, 
  • 13% are still in the running to finish a marathon February by having completed three in the first week, and
  • 48% of you feel energized by the experience so far!
Not only that, but you wrote while snowed in; with burst water pipes or no water; with sick selves, kids and partners; lots of work (including 72 high school nordic skiers to coach and hosting illustration conferences); through marriages and funerals; and, hmm, with monkeys invading the kitchen....were those real monkeys?
Half of the challenge of a race is showing up to run. We all run at our own pace, and not everyone who starts a marathon crosses the finish line. But, hopefully, we take away something rewarding from the experience. 15% of those reporting tallies are running at their own pace - maybe it will take them a little longer to run the entire marathon (when I used to run cross country, I finished one race when they were taking down the finish line...). Or maybe they’ll run a half marathon. Sometimes you just do what you can.
Way to go everyone - keep it up!


  1. This might help some of you...I am using my Story Spinner to come up with great starts...I got it at

    It's been invaluable to me...and it still helps to have starters, too...Jean and Lora!

  2. We tried to update the "story starter" page, but it was unco-operative. Grrrrr. Our blog post tomorrow will include some. Thanks.

  3. I,too,have noticed that much of what I've written is extremely rough, but there are nuggets in there that might become good stories one day. With that in mind, is there really any market out there for picture books these days? Should a picture book writer skip the agents and go straight to publishers?

  4. My goal is to get ideas down on paper,I think that is the most important part of writing. Can always go back and edit and polish. I'm not even trying to get a finished product at this point.

  5. No, alas it wasn't real monkeys. It was my very clever, toddler that has figured out more creative ways of playing in the kitchen. Did inspire today's story though. (My dad did have a pet monkey though when he was younger and apparently they don't make good pets.)

  6. i'm one of those who just made it to the starting line, but I'm looking forward to see if I can keep pace from here, and maybe catch up a bit. Thanks so much for doing this!

  7. Feeling a little winded but I'm still in the running. I am learning that I have to pace my schedule a little better.
    Thank you to those of you offering refreshments from the sidelines. The encouragement helps keep us going. Never give up!

  8. I totally agree with what Lora and Jean said about everyone having their own pace. What's important is that everyone do their personal best, enjoy the process, and be able to forgive themselves and press on when they have to <3
    Here's my update, which hopefully sheds some light on the enjoying the process aspect:

  9. I'm with Jenny, just trying to get ideas down. I'm getting burned out shoveling snow - hmmm...maybe I can rant with a picture book about that?

  10. The growing collection of stories is one thing, but the learning is another wonderful benefit! I am taking notes on what I am learning about writing, about myself, about what it takes to accomplish my goals to meet the deadlines, and about what I am giving up. There are many surprises along the way!...Could do without the continuing shoveling though, my shoulders are sore!