I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Writing Process: So Many Questions

The whole writing process for children's books can be quite fascinating. There are so many things that beginning writers need to consider:
  1. will I write a picture book, a chapter book, a middle-grade novel, or a young adult novel? Do I have a personal preference for one or the other? Have I come up with an idea that is just begging to be written?
  2. have I considered the recognized guidelines for writing in the style/genre I have chosen? For example, appropriate word length, reader age, issues being dealt with, etc.
  3. what is the current industry perspective of my chosen genre of novel? Are picture books hard to place with publishers at the present time - should I try something else? Are young adult novels all the rage - would that be my best chance of being published? Is the industry saturated with vampire novels and other themes that have been "done to death" - should I try something different? Or should I try to give a new spin to an "old theme"?
  4. how long should I spend writing and revising before my book is ready to send? I really don't want to spend six years on the one book!
  5. how many ideas/projects should I have on the go at one time? Will I get bored if I only work on one project at a time? Or will I simply fail to complete anything if I keep chopping and changing between different projects?
  6. should I limit myself to writing only one type of children's book? Should I just call myself a "picture book writer", for example, or should I remain open to writing young adult novels and other types of children's books as well? Should I even just limit myself to children's books - what if I have an adult thriller just begging to come out?
  7. should I try to find an agent, or seek out publishers straight away? Am I even ready to start submitting my work?

The questions above only just scratch the surface. And these same questions will keep cropping up as your writing progresses. Some you will need to answer over and over again, as you refine your writing process and come to a better understanding of how you as an author work.

Some aspiring authors prefer to find the answer to the many questions before they even begin writing. Others "dive in" to the writing process and answer questions such as the ones above as they go along. There is no right answer - do what works best for you. At a minimum, however, it is preferable if you decide the answer to questions (1) and (2) above before you begin to write your chosen book. Otherwise you may well end up with a bit of a muddle.

My best advice would be this. Find out what works for you and stick with it. And most of all, don't let anything faze you. You can do this! Onwards and upwards...

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