It’s natural – even encouraged – to find an author pool who inspires your writing. You study their character development, how they drive the plot, and the detailed ways they offer twists and turns keeping you glued to their novels.
What happens when that inspiration turns sour? Instead of feeling bolstered by an author’s ability to achieve their dream (which means you can, too!), instead you begin to feel left behind in a social media sea of new agent announcements and publishing contracts.
I think new writers are too worried it’s all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you. – Asha Dornfest
Trust Your Originality
How many different picture books are written about friendship? Overcoming obstacles? Family? Countless.
Each book offered a spin on an age old tale, and you have a twist in your story, too. Maybe it’s setting; fiction vs. nonfiction; diversity; genre. Whatever it is, find it.
One of the many agents who rejected
me my manuscript years ago told me my manuscript was “too sweet.” It’s not that the story was bad, it’s that it was predictable.
In a picture book, you have a mere 500 words to grab your audience, establish the character’s problem, maneuver through the obstacles and resolve. Don’t be afraid to get to the punch and let your illustrator fill in the gaps. They tell 50% of the story! Trust children to handle a challenging or silly topic; I assure you they handle them better than most adults I know.
NYT Bestselling Published Versions
Here’s the worst kept secret in the industry: Your favorite NYT Bestselling authors rewrote those NYT bestsellers more times than they care to recall.
As you cope with wondering how they made it on that list, know that they had writer’s block, head-banging moments stuck with what to do with their protagonist, and looming deadlines pressuring them to pound out words.
Creativity is not bestowed on some and withheld from others. You have what it takes to get on that list.
If only those NYT Bestselling authors shared pre-revised pages of their novels like celebrities offer pre-photoshopped pictures of cellulite legs and muffin tops. You’d see “they’re just like us!”
Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. – Suzy Kassem
Ask For Readers
Trust others to read your drafted, messy concepts. Maybe this is a family member or three, a close friend, or ideally, a writing group.
We’re all our own worst critics, so finding a few voices to point out what IS working in your story will not only keep you moving through rewrites, but also reassure you that your idea is a good one. (I could have told you that, but you probably trust these readers more than me.)
Putting our book baby in front of others intimidates us all, but it’s valuable insight into your writing. Your strengths, your areas for improvement, and hey, maybe Granny has a great twist for Secondary Character that ties it all together for you.
Your loved ones are rooting for your dreams. Let them put that cheerleading to good use.