• especially in the genre you want to write. Read what is being published today as well as the classics in the field. Reread to figure out how an author accomplished something especially effective.
• Read in other genres to expand your knowledge base and your style.
• Yep! seat in chair (comfy desk chair a must) fingers on the keyboard. You cannot do it if you don’t devote the time.
• Some people set a regular schedule. Me? My life is too crazy for that so I figure out my schedule each day and I stick to my writing time. Sometimes I have to give up a favorite TV show or get up early or let the house get out of hand. Writing is a priority; right after family.
3. Form a Critique Group
• Find others writing in your genre and form a band of buddies, meet regularly, and read aloud a set amount of your “work in progress.” My group is called Scribblers. We meet once a month and read a chapter.
• When someone has finished a draft of a novel, we have “a marathon.” Each member gets a copy ahead of time to read and critique. When we meet we discuss the novel’s flaws and strengths. For us, the meeting lasts about half a day and includes food. • Below we’re eating Garbage Plates, a dish invented by Nick Tahou in Rochester, New York, a dish that plays a part in my novel aptly titled Garbage Plate.
• And then of course, listen to your groups suggestions. Not all of their comments will be what you want to do with your work, but it is amazing how often my group pinpoints a spot that needs work.
• Accuracy is vital. If your character is picking bayberries in North Carolina in September, you’d better be sure that is the time they are on the bushes. If your novel is set in 1717, you’d better not have them flick on a light switch; instead you’d have them light a betty lamp or a candle.
• Writing is work. But sometimes the best writing comes from playing around with words, playing around with ideas, trying something that might not work just for the fun of it.
• Especially the type of books you want to illustrate. Study the illustrations, the formats, styles, special requirements such as number of spreads in a picture book. Where is the text? How is it integrated with the illustrations.
• Look at art frequently, at galleries, while on vacation in shops.
• Nothing makes your illustrations better than practicing your drawing, sketching positions, trying out new ideas, and painting or whatever media you choose.
• Find time to draw in your sketch book every day. You never know when that scribble of an idea is the one that will make your work shine. Don’t lose it by not putting it down.
3. Form a support group.
• RACWI our local SCBWI affiliated chapter gives illustrators a chance to network, share ideas and commiserate.
• Form a collaborative group. Getting together may be like herding cats, but when you do, the group can offer support, ideas, and inspiration.
• Illustrating can be frustrating or work can be scarce, so the best remedy is to have fun with it. Try something new. Learn a new technique or spend some time drawing with a young child. For them the enjoyment isn’t in the product but the process. Recapture the joy.
1. It’s complicated
• No writers I know have enough time to complete all the stories they want to tell.
• No illustrators I know have enough time to complete all the pictures they want to draw.
• So why would writer-illustrators have enough time to complete all the stories and drawings they want to do?
2. We just have to prioritize and enjoy the dueling dual creative process.