Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Megan Vs. The Blank Page

Shortly after I started trying to educate myself about writing picture books, I ran into a huge problem.  I couldn't start a story.  I had too much information floating around in my head.  Every time I would start a sentence, I would think of twelve rules I was breaking.  I knew I'd have to go back and fix it, so I just erased it and started again.  And again.  And again.

It was WAY frustrating.

Then I came to the realization that re-writes were part of the process.  I just needed a starting point.  So, the writers block was lifted and I churned out some truly awful first drafts and then started my re-write dance.  I'm averaging about 9 major re-writes per manuscript at this point.  I don't even know how many if you count the little "polish" re-writes too.

But now I'm facing a new problem.  My initial well of ideas is drying up.  It has been almost a full year since I started writing with my head full of story ideas.  For the first time, I'm experiencing an idea drought.  What to do?

Well, I'm still writing.  I'm doing those re-writes, blogging, jotting down snippets and starts.  I'm going back through journals, my PiBiIdMo notebook, and my picture book log book.  I'm trying to look at the world with a writer's mind.  I'm being hyper-observant around kids.

My block will go away at some point.  I'm confident.  I just can't give up, and neither can you!


  1. I always find a walk is helpful in getting ideas flowing. Also washing dishes or vacuuming or folding laundry - any task where the hands are busy but the mind is free. (And with multiple kids, any given day has plenty of opportunities for those tasks!) Also, I seem to get a lot of good ideas in the shower... where I can't write them down immediately so I rehearse them in my head and try to remember them!

    And ideas spawn ideas. The more you have, the more you write, the more you get. Not to say they're all good... you've got to separate the wheat from the chaff... but sometimes you've just got to get those ideas flowing.

    It sounds like you're doing all the right things, and with your positive attitude you're right - your block will go away and you'll be writing up a storm in no time! Meanwhile, take comfort in knowing you're certainly not alone - we all have those dry spells! I started a story on my FB page yesterday - come on over and join in - maybe it will spark an idea :)

  2. You're absolutely right, Megan! Pretty soon, the idea well will be full again. Keep revising and watching and it'll be there when it needs to be. :-)

  3. I find trying to write nonfiction helpful. So many kids magazines want nonfiction stories that if there is someone or something you know a lot about or have an interest it can be fun to research and learn even more. It can be fun to write the information in a way that is fun for kids.

  4. I get into idea slumps sometimes too, but then I'm not a very fast writer, so that's okay. I spend far more time on my existing ms, so I only need one or two good ideas in the hopper.

  5. Have you tried journaling about stuff? Nothing in particular, random thoughts, describing the leaves on the trees. Whatever. Sometimes that knocks a few ideas out of my head and onto the page. Days later, muse is jumping all over me about something in the journal.

  6. I haven't hit that yet...still have way more ideas than time to write them...I'm sure you'll breakthrough soon!


  7. Back when I was in art school, the technique was the same. We were told, 'there is nothing worse than a blank canvas so just do something and let it grow from there." When in a creative drought though, I find it helpful to do something totally different. Let go. It seems to relieve the pressure to perform and sometimes triggers new ideas from a new perspective.