Cornering Your Passion to Boost Your Growth

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As soon as you walk into my house, you get a glimpse of my office. It is not neat. It is not tidy. The floor is covered with picture books. They’ve replaced the carpeting, with the exception of a small path to my chair. If you venture to the living room, you’ll find library bags full of picture books lining the hall. More stack the coffee table and beneath it on the floor. What’s for breakfast? Picture books. Lunch? Picture books. Dinner? Well, you know.

The chapter books and middle grade novels are gaining dust on the shelf. It’s been a long time since I cracked one open. Of the four novels I bought for vacation last year, only one was read. Why?

My heart and passion for fiction picture books has taken over. I’m in love, and I have been for a very long time. But, it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I decided to put the picture book blinders on.  The classes, challenges, resources, and conference workshops that I choose all revolve around picture books.

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Most of us are not independently wealthy, and therefore, we need to choose our educational writing experiences with care and intent to stay on budget.

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Do you know where your heart is? We often hear, “Write what you love.” So, what do you love writing? Are you reading that same thing? Surround yourself with mentor texts from that form and genre. Then, ask yourself: Where do I need most growth? How do my favorite authors handle this in their writing?

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Read, read, read in your genre!

Reading should be your go-to resource, and thanks to libraries, you can do your research for free. I challenge you to focus all of your efforts on one area, if only for a little while, and see where your heart leads you. You might be surprised when you grow in ways you never thought possible. Choose your classes and workshops with intent. See if that makes a difference for you and let me know how it goes.

27 comments

  1. After investing 3 months in starting a new blog writing reviews on 5-star picture books, which meant I read 350 books (award-winning, classic and best sellers) and wrote 80+ reviews, I returned to writing and discovered I learned a tremendous amount during this intensive! I looked at manuscripts and immediately knew how to trim, focus and make them publishable. It was like I suddenly had these superpowers. Investing in yourself stretches and polishes the skills. Visit my website, http://www.books4thecuriouschild.com, to see which books I selected!
    Susan

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    1. You are right, Susan. Mentor texts rock! ReFoReMo focuses on mentor texts for a picture book writing education. 🙂 It happens every March. Maybe next March you would enjoy participating, too. 🙂 I’ll take a peek at your selections.

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  2. Oh, I’m SO focused…on whatever I’m working on. Right now it’s YA, and I’m reading that. (Reading Kris Asselin’s ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT right now!) But I have three books finished, and another nine drafted, in a chapter book series. And I scribbled down the start of a rhyming picture book a couple of months back…And I love them ALL! I do get “lost” in the YA more than the others, while I’m writing. Maybe that’s a clue. Hmm…I could try to focus on whatever ends up selling first…

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    1. Ha! It’s hard when you love it all! I admire you so much, Marianne! I would love to branch out someday, but for now I am so in love and have over 50 picture book manuscripts and growing! (About to add seven more next week during the NaPiBoWriWee challenge!) With that much work, and so much more pouring out, I owe it to myself, and the form, to focus. 🙂

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  3. Good advice. Focus is a huge problem for me. I write all kinds of things and jump around a lot, but have been focusing on picture books more lately. I have a path in my office as well. Now, if I could find the top of my desk…

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  4. Good advice. I once interviewed a woman doc who heads a major women’s medical facility. Her advice to all her mentees: focus, focus, focus.

    I’ve gone down the same book-strewn path. I love the PB form. That’s not to say I’ve forsaken all others forever, just only for the time being.

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    1. I love that, Jilanne! You are right… it may not be forever. 🙂 I, too, hope to write something more one day. But, when the ideas are pouring out and the passion won’t let you leave, it’s best to listen and learn. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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    1. Even if they are all middle grade ideas- you can narrow your focus to that area. If you are sprinkled in PB, MG, and even short stories, for instance, which of those usually comes out of you first? Are your characters normally 4 years old or 12 or 15? That’s usually a huge indication of the direction your heart is trying to lead you. Best wishes!

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  5. I do love picture books – but by studying them and their changing formats, as well as the stories I fel driven to tell, I realized that my passion is actually for slightly longer texts. If “picture storybooks” were still a significant part of the market, that would surely be my thing, but now I’m learning more and more about the new wave of early, illustrated chapter books (like the fabulous Branches line) and even tentatively exploring young MG. Mira Reisberg’s Chapter Book Alchemist class was my most recent investment in my passion – and worth every penny and then some!

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