Writing seven picture books in seven days is a lot harder than it seems. I’ve just finished NaPiBoWriWee where that’s exactly what I had to do.
On some days the ideas came easily. One morning I woke up with an idea already formed in my mind. Other days inspiration didn’t come quite so easily. In fact, it got to seven o’clock one night and I was fretting that I wouldn’t find an idea at all. Some of my ideas were sparked by the world around me (a picture book set on a farm) or a memory (the theme song to Postman Pat reminded me of a funny line my siblings and I used to sing when we were younger and it formed into a picture book idea). Some of my ideas came out of thin air (such as the one I wrote about a pirate) or from staring out the window blankly (what if there were fairies in the garden?) Asking my son for ideas didn’t work out very well as all he wanted to do was count (hence one of my picture books ended up being a counting book), though he came up with some good character names for one of my picture books.
For the most part I waited for my children to go to bed before I sat down to work on my picture book for the day. On a couple of days my son was my sounding board while my daughter napped. The fact we went on holidays with two days of NaPiBoWriWee to go left me worried I wouldn’t get those last two picture books for the week written. As it turns out our very long car trip gave me a lot of time to think and work out a story in my head (which I typed up on my laptop the first chance I got) and my final idea was inspired by the trip itself.
The Writing of a Picture Book is a Complex Exercise.
Although picture books appear simple on the surface, it is their simplicity that makes them complex to write. Writing picture books is a lesson in using concise language. Word choice is especially difficult as it mustn’t be too flowery or difficult for a child to comprehend, yet an odd word every now and then that encourages the child to explore language beyond their own vocabulary enriches the text. Picture books tend to have a rhythm and flow, whether a rhyming text or straight prose. It must sound right when read aloud.
Far From Finished.
The picture books I wrote for NaPiBoWriWee are no where near finished, they are simply rough drafts. Two of the picture books I wrote will probably never be explored further as I just don’t feel I like them enough or that they have enough potential. Some of my other ideas I really love and I will definitely be revising and reworking them until they’re polished. (My picture book critique group can expect to see some of them in the near future!)
Did you do NaPiBoWriWee this year? How did you go? Was it easier or harder than you anticipated? If you didn’t do it, is it something you would consider doing in the future?