This is Part 2 of “Story Starters—Look, Listen, & Feel” from August 15, 2008.
The following is an excerpt (obtained with permission from FabJob) from FabJob Guide to Become a Children’s Book Author, by Jeannie Harmon and Shiela Seifert.
We’re continuing with ways to come up with and keep great ideas for your writing moments! Last time we stopped at idea #4. Let’s keep going!
5. Volunteer to work with kids.
A good way to get to know kids is to work with them. Find areas where you can involve yourself. Call your local elementary school or ask at your church to see if there are areas where you could volunteer. Usually they will be glad to have help, and you will get to talk to kids and learn how they think, talk, and act.
6. Look into your past.
Flannery O’Connor said that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life. The good news is that you were a kid, and you have almost an endless supply of material at your fingertips. You might think that you can’t remember much, but you would be surprised when you start putting things down on paper.
Start with your first day of school (or your first day of middle school!) or the Thanksgiving that everyone stood up until Grandma, who was always serving others, sat down. Write about your best childhood friend – what you did and where you went. Write about your first piano recital – when halfway through your piano piece your mind went blank, and you forgot the music. The list goes on and on.
Used in many professional settings, brainstorming is the free flow of ideas written down on paper or a white board. Judgment is not passed. No idea is out of line or stupid. By listing everything that you can think of, you will see patterns and solutions that you will be able to use in constructive ways.
One way to do this when you’re by yourself, is to time yourself for fifteen minutes. Once the timer starts, put your pencil on the sheet of paper and begin writing. You can write, “I don’t know what to write,” or “I can’t wait for the timer to end,” if you can’t think of anything to write.
The key is to keep your pencil moving for fifteen minutes without picking it up. Try to concentrate on one story or one topic and then write anything that comes to mind. Write one long paragraph that is devoid of punctuation and grammar rules. When the timer goes off, go back and read the ideas that have appeared on your sheet of paper.
8. Mind mapping.
Mind mapping is a very useful tool. It is a type of brainstorming but with this tool all the events are closely related to one core idea or event.
To do mind mapping, simply write one idea or event in the middle of a white piece of paper. Then explore all the things that come to mind, jotting each thing down in a circular pattern around your core idea. This will enable you to expand your thinking to include other aspects that you haven’t thought about before. Connect each idea to the core thought by drawing a line to the center.
One of the greatest things about being a children’s writer is that it legitimizes being a kid again. No longer are you bound in this adult box called “the serious side of life.” You now have an excuse to free up an afternoon and go to the park. You are doing research.
So sit back, clear your mind, take out your note cards and pencil, and expect to have fun! Writing for kids is an intricate blend of work and play, and there are no corporate directives to follow. You cut your own path.
The above is only a small sample of the valuable information in the FabJob Guide to Become a Children’s Book Author. The complete guide gives detailed information on how you can become a published children’s book author. Visit www.FabJob.com/childauthor.asp for more information.
It’s me, Sheryl (o: I hope you found this information as helpful as I did! Thanks again to Shelley, Manager of Special Projects for FabJob Inc. for allowing me to post this excerpt!
Contributed by Sheryl Ann Crawford