In my December 2018 Blogfish post, I suggested 5 tips for staying motivated during the busy holiday season: picking one project to work on, setting up an accountability check in, carrying a journal, continuing to read, and mapping out a calendar. Click here for that post.

Now in January, it’s a new year. I recommend focusing on the following 5 strategies to jump-start your 2019 writing life:



1) Think – Focus on ideas. Observe the world around you. Listen to conversations kids have at the park, the library, and on the playground. Watch animal antics. Pay attention to nature. Scroll through online videos. Revisit the photos on your phone or in old photo albums. Read the newspaper for noteworthy stories. Ideas and inspiration are everywhere, so stop, grab them, and make them your own.

2) Read – Focus on reading widely, and also specifically in your genre. Read magazines, newspapers, novels, comic books, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, and anything else that interests you. And also read in the area that you write in, so perhaps decide to read as many new picture book releases as you can. Study these books, write out the text, think about what makes them special and unique. Determine how you can apply what you study to help inform your own writing.

3) Write – Focus on getting words down on the page. Write those first drafts. Try not to edit yourself too much as you write. Just let the ideas and the words flow without judgement. Then put the draft away for some period of time until you are ready to revise.

4) Revise – Focus on next steps in the writing process. Most authors will tell you that the magic happens in the revision stage. Take those first drafts and pull them apart. Perhaps change the main character, the point of view, or the setting of the story. Maybe the main character is really an animal, not a child. Try first person point of view. Maybe the story should take place in outer space, not in school. Play with your story to make it the best it can be. Focus on big picture and small picture revisions. Work with trusted critique partners. Polish your manuscript until it shines.

5) Connect – Focus on connecting to the KidLit community. Join SCBWI and volunteer with your local chapter. Attend online or in-person courses, workshops, and conferences. Join a critique group. Participate in writing challenges. Become active in the social media forum that you feel comfortable with. Find and cultivate your tribe. Connecting with other writers and illustrators will enable you to be an engaged part of the wonderful children’s literature community.

Wishing you all the best for a creative 2019 as you jump into the New Year!



Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2019); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, 2018), and Return of the Magic Paintbrush and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories (Clear Fork, 2019). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant and Blogger for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a Moderator for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Trustees at The Hewitt School and at Temple Shaaray Tefila. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy.