by Bryan Patrick Avery
This month, I started trying something new with my magic. My aim is to select a single trick each month, learn it, and complete at least 500 rehearsals during the month. The benefit, at least I see it, are two-fold. First, it encourages me to expand my repertoire. Second, and perhaps most important, it helps me to build better practicing habits, which leads to better results. The same, of course, is true with writing and illustrating.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard that writers must write every day. I once heard Sue Grafton say, “a writer is someone who has written today”. While not every successful writer would agree with the philosophy, there is something to be said for putting in the work of creating stories every day to help improve technique and even stoke the creative fire within.
Personally, when I write every day, I find that I generate more ideas, get more words down on the page, and generally feel more positive about my work. Whether it’s every day, or weekly, there are benefits to setting aside regular time for creativity.
Creating every day isn’t always easy, though. That’s where an accountability partner or writing group can help. I’ve also found motivation in several of the monthly creative challenges that are available online.
One of my favorites is Tara Lazar’s Storystorm, a 30-day quest to generate 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. Formerly Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo), if it sounds challenging, that’s point. When I first attempted it, I wasn’t sure I could generate that many ideas in a year, much less a month! But I dove in and, by the end of the month, I had 30+ ideas. Of course, not all of them were great, but out of the thirty, several have turned into manuscripts and one has found a publisher. Storystorm kicks off each January. If you’re a picture book author, I highly recommend it.
Another monthly writing challenge I’ve enjoyed is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which challenges writers to write a novel in month. Every November, writers around the world sign up for this challenge and spend the month drafting their novels. If it sounds daunting, it is. But it’s also fun. I’ve found that, with the prospect of having to finish in a month, I stop thinking about getting every detail perfect and focus instead on the getting the story down on paper. Someone once told me that you can’t revise something that hasn’t been written. NaNoWriMo might just be a way for you to get your latest idea down on paper.
These monthly challenges aren’t just for the writers among us. Inktober, in progress now, is the brain child of artist Jake Parker. Artists are challenged to create 31 ink drawings in 31 days. What’s especially cool is that there is a prompt for each day to inspire or challenge the artist. In addition, artists are encouraged to post their work daily. It’s fun perusing social media sites and seeing all the #inktober postings. It is truly inspiring.
So that’s all for this month, three ways to help get you working and drive creativity. Happy writing (and illustrating)! Have a magical month!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Maggie Brown.
And 5th Mondays will feature the wonderful Ave Maria Cross