How to Revisit “Kid” You

If only I could go back in time to walk in young me’s shoes. Sure, research via reading books and talking to kids is arguably just as effective for churning out kid-friendly stories, but wouldn’t it help to be 7- or 12-year-old you for even an hour? To relive those kid feelings and write them into your current stories?

Well, if you wrote stories when you were a kid, I suggest you dust off those gems and read. As a kidlit writer, you strive to capture how children feel in your stories and characters. When I reread my old stories, I’m transported back to that time and, even if just momentarily, feel those kid feelings of excitement, wonder, possibility, and fear.

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Doggone Inspiration

Disclaimer: This post is an obvious excuse for me to shamelessly show photos of my dog. Read and attempt to suppress smiles at your own risk.

10410543_10152472729528454_1161016920991249959_nYou can say I’m a bit obsessed with my dog. Three-quarters of my iPhone photos are of Dixie. I spend much of my free time with her, whether we’re walking, running errands, playing tug-o-war, licking cookie dough spatulas, chasing tennis balls, squeaking squeaker toys, or running amok in Justin’s backyard. Most days, I don’t write until Dixie’s good and tired, and I’d honestly rather cuddle up with her on a Friday night over hitting the town. I mean, how could anyone resist this at the end of an insane work week?

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The Fine Art of Daydreaming

“My idea of hell is a blank sheet of paper. Or a blank screen.”

I just read Neil Gaiman’s essay, “Where do you get your ideas?” and this quote stuck. Nothing is more terrible than a blindingly white blank screen with a cursor incessantly blinking. It’s intimidating, aggravating, and at times, cause for me to hide from my computer. Every writer has been on the receiving end of a blank page’s unwavering stare. We yearn for ideas to begin cultivating words on a naked page.

Gaiman’s essay got me thinking: where do my own ideas come from? There is no doubt I make them up out of my head, as he puts it. But what ignites them? Of course my ideas spur from life experiences and from hours of reading, but I’m talking about that exact moment when an idea pops like a kernel of corn.

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Reset and Recharged

It’s hard to get away. With work and writing and family and dogs, it’s difficult to find the time to take some time. But I did it. Last weekend I got away to Lake Tahoe with Justin. Beautiful Tahoe. I felt like a broken record while we were there. I said “This place is so beautiful” about 100 times. It took my breath away every minute of our four-day vacation.

I did something crazy the night before I left: I promised myself that I would not write on my vacation. I felt like I was committing a crime. Some would say, “That’s crazy!” or “Don’t writers get away so they can write more?” or “How could you not write while staying in this cute little bungalow?”

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Dusting Off a Poem

I often draw inspiration for picture books from the present: things I see and experience now. When I go through a dry spell of fresh ideas, I’m sucked toward an inspirationless black hole. I resist that pull by reminding myself that stories aren’t limited to current life events. This seems obvious, but I often forget it in when I’m in a slump. Sometimes I’ll dust off an old piece of writing to see where it leads me.

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