Monday, January 7, 2008

Writing Monday

Hey! How come there isn't a picture of me being my cute self today?

We don't need to see your big mug every day, Winchester. The Writer and I were talking about the blog. We've decided to add a new feature: Writing Monday. The blog post will be about different aspects of writing children's books.

One thing The Writer is asked a lot is where she gets her ideas. She always jokes that she has more ideas than she'll ever have time to make into books. The Writer's biggest problem isn't where to find ideas, but how to keep other book ideas from intruding on the current project. She has idea files and notebooks salted all over her office--scraps of paper with a cryptic word or two, some a few sentences, a character sketch, etc.

In her book Chapter after Chapter, Heather Sellers says you can't save ideas. They turn into ashes. Ideas must be acted upon, not tucked in files. This theory works for those who are having trouble getting started writing a book. But what about writers who work steadily on projects with very little "free" time between? Ideas will come at the most inconvenient times. They hover and pester. They are seductive. They want your attention now and, if you've been working a long time on the current project, they can lure you away. Sellers addresses that issue too, by stating to turn away from those glimmering, new ideas. But if you can't, if the new idea is so tempting and wonderful, then devote a single day--no more--to exploring that idea. Run with it down the road as long as you come back the same day.

The Writer has been doing that for some time. She develops the new ideas as far as she can to a) see if there really is a book there, and b) accomplish some of the spadework so when she returns to it, she can start at a more exciting place. It is true that a single small idea cannot be preserved for a long time. But if that idea has been explored, with notes taken and resources listed. Maybe write down why you were so enthralled with the idea originally. And also write down what you were doing when the idea hit. There may be a connection.

Is that it? That's the post for today? Bor-ing. See you tomorrow!

Maybe. Remember, Winchester, you are not indispensible.

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