I just had a kind reader ask for inspiration to jump start her writing after being away from the creative outlet for a bit. This is definitely a recurring circumstance for me as I step away from novel writing for marketing or board book noodling. So, here's my short response in case it might help another:
I suggest immersing yourself in someone else's writing. That will prime the pump first. Then imitating their work can get the words flowing. Riff off someone else's poem or song or painting and title it "After Van Gogh's Starry Night," etc.
A book like Poemcrazy can give you exercises to work through. And you might find strong poetry emerging in the midst of the read.
For longer works, say a novel, I listen for what makes me angry. Addressing that injustice or falsity is enough to fuel a 2+ year project for me. i.e. gendercide: Firstborn; or losses happen, so how do we dream again (versus Sesame Street/Barney saying we CAN be whatever we want if we try hard enough):On Pointe. There has to be a life truth I'm standing on to drive the work.
Reading, imitating, exercises, pondering what you care about at an emotional level will jump start you for sure. Write what you have lived.
How to Get Published, 2014
I'm often asked for tips in how to publish. Here's a quick reference:
1. Keep notes as you read books of who is publishing what. Over time, you'll start to see a personality of the different houses and where your work might best fit.
2. Get the current Writer's Market Book, or this one if you write for children: Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market Book. Study who is accepting unsolicited manuscripts or queries.
3. Find a national and local organization for writers, such as the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association or the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They'll have conferences and meetings. Joining and attending, you may gain the opportunity to interview with an agent or editor.
4. Submit your queries, or manuscript, as the Market Book advises, simultaneously if the house accepts such.
5. Find a local critique group you can trust for feedback. The Writer's Association will often be able to help you connect with one.
6. Then once your piece is out, get to writing the next.
7. It's great to get experience and a few credits to list in your queries by publishing in newspapers, blogs, or magazines. So don't overlook that opportunity.
Here's to your first sales!
I just received a provocative email from a teen in the Netherlands who is writing an essay on my verse novel, On Pointe. She noticed how the literary structure itself reflects dance. I thought to share a few of her questions and my answers. How fun when readers make writers think!
Time Management, November 11, 2010
I was recently asked about my personal time management for an article. Here are my answers for the curious.