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Growing Ideas

Every writer or illustrator must face the challenge of how to make the exciting ideas that inspire them concrete for the reader. This isn’t always a simple task. The thoughts that set off sparks in the mind can easily fall flat when first put down on the page. Sometimes it is tempting to stop after the first attempts and decide that the idea wasn’t so good after all. But good ideas require hard work to become something that can inspire someone else. So how do professional creators tackle this challenge?

Sketch for Hey Diddle, Diddle – The Neighborhood Mother Goose, Greenwillow Books 2004

Late last month I gave some tips on developing book ideas at a workshop for NYC public school teachers whose students will be creating books for the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking competition.

I talked about how each and everyone of us has a unique way of telling a story because it is informed by our own unique selves. I talked about the strategies that many writers and artists use when first exploring ideas. I shared notes and scribbles, lists, and vision boards from projects old and new. I talked about how ideas can sometimes flow easily and at other times require more patience and persistence to develop.

I handed out a worksheet with a list of things you can do to help the work along. Download it here.

Inspiration for Seeing Into Tomorrow:Haiku by Richard Wright, Millbrook 2018

Persistence and Patience
Many people may have the same great idea, but very few will persist and develop that great idea into book. Be that persistent person.
Eventually every author/illustrator must sit down to work in earnest, but remember everything needs time to grow. Be patient and be kind when the work frustrates, disappoints or takes longer than expected to develop.

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