Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrate Your Successes

We hope that for you, this marathon has been a month of going deeper, and finding meaning and inspiration from your work. 

Whether you've finished the full marathon, or instead found yourself running a half marathon or 5K, take a moment as the month ends to look at what went well with your writing or illustrating this month, and to evaluate whether you could continue it on an ongoing basis. Could you do mini-marathon weekends every other month? Or keep a notebook with you to record ideas before they slip away? Figure out what worked, and run with it. 

One of the most helpful things about the marathon is idea generation, but, as Jean said this week, the marathon puts those ideas to the test. You get to see if you can actually make them work. And if they don't work one day, maybe they'll work the next. Or maybe you find, after a week of coming at it from different directions, it's time to move on. If it's still an idea that keeps nibbling at the edges of your consciousness though, you might find that your brain eventually figures out how to make it work. So don't pitch those files or notebooks quite yet.

We'd like to thank Will Strong once again for the great marathon logo. Thanks also to all of you who have run with us this month. Take a moment to let everyone know how your marathon month went in the comments section of the blog (I noticed a few already on the last post). While you may feel that it's time for a break after marathon madness, it will soon be time to March into revisions. We wish you the best of luck, and look forward to next year!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Confession

This "low-key" version of the Picture Book Marathon isn't captivating me like the full-on PB marathons of past years.  In fact, I will be lucky to complete a half marathon this year!  It's unclear to me whether it's the low-key nature that has caused me to skip days more frequently or if this February has been particularly distracting for me. What about yall?

If you're looking for inspiration during the final ten days, you may want to visit the blog postings for last year.  I've found them helpful.  Topics include:
"Plan Your Celebration"
"Hoping for a 'Pooper-Scooper'"
Photos for inspiration
"Let's Cheat"
"PB Plots!  Story Ideas!"
"Recapturing Whimsy"
"Pretty and Pink?"

I hope something tickles your fancy.  Good luck!

Also, sorry we've had trouble updated the blog links for marathon participants.  We'll let you know if we solve the technical challenges.  Thanks.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Story Storming

The prolific Rick Walton, author of picture books such as Baby's First Year and Mr. President Goes to School, contributed this "story storming" idea:

"Let's get started. What are you afraid of? No, that's not a rhetorical question - I'm not suggesting you are afraid of writing a manuscript a day. But really. What are you afraid of? List all of your fears, all of the frightening experiences you have ever had. Add to that list the fears and frightening experiences of your children, your siblings, your friends. And then, start asking questions.

For example, I am afraid of walking home alone at night in the dark. During the day, no problem. I can see that that bush is just a bush, that there is nothing behind that tree, that on the hill next to my driveway there are no mountain lions ready to pounce on me. But at night, oh my! Is that a bush or a bear? Is there a tiger behind that tree?

So I decided to write a story about someone walking home alone at night in the dark. The first question -- who? The next -- why was she walking home alone at night in the dark? What did she see? How did she respond? How did the story end? Step-by-step, question by question, I wrote the story. It was published by Putnam. A Very Hairy Scary Story.

Now, pick one of your ideas and start asking questions. Who? What are the problems? What are the goals? What are the obstacles to achieving them? Who else is involved? How do they achieve their goals? Writing a story is like piecing a puzzle together. You do it one piece at a time. As long as there are questions unanswered in your story, keep asking. When there are no more questions, your story is done. (Hint: don't skimp on the brainstorming! One prompt might keep you going for several days.)"

Thanks Rick, for that story prompt that many of us probably sorely need by now!

If you've been anxiously waiting for the 2012 t-shirts, totes, and mugs featuring Will Strong's fabulous "Leap!" logo, check the now-updated marathon store. But don't spend too much time there - get back to writing!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ways to Creativity, Monday, February 6

Margaret Peot, author of the kids' book Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity, might make a good picture book marathoner. She writes, "many people say that it is important to cultivate playfulness, and to do so regularly....When your body and mind get in the habit of being creative on a schedule, you are much less likely to be creatively blocked." Peot points to inkblots as a way to expand your creativity, pointing to Victor Hugo, who "used his drawings to inspire his written work." Enhance your writing this week with some inkblots of your own - take a peek at Peot's website to get started, or check out the book!
Have any ideas you'd like to share with your fellow marathoners? Post them in the comments section!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ready! Set! Leap!


Good luck!  Share any tips or encouraging thoughts in the comments.  We'll all be needing a little encouragement as we leap along. 

Here's a quick reminder about what we're challenging ourselves to accomplish:

Your Goal: Between February 1 and February 29, write one picture book a day, until you get to 26. This year, February has 29 days (thus, Take the Leap!), so you get a bonus break day. 

The Basics: We define a picture book 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, 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 - they either won’t have time to criticize, or they’ll be too tired.
  • Practice a writing practice.