- Read read read! The more
you read, the more you will think like a writer. I always have
a book with me to read when I am stuck someplace...like a doctor's
office, or in line at the supermarket.
There are also some terrific books about writing. My favorites
are WHAT'S YOUR STORY, by Marion Dane Bauer for kids AND adults);
and the following books for adults: ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING
by Ray Bradbury; anything by Natalie Goldberg; WRITING ON BOTH
SIDES OF THE BRAIN by Henriette Ann Klauser; BIRD BY BIRD by Anne
Lamott; STEERING THE CRAFT by Ursula K. Le Guin; WRITING FROM
THE INSIDE OUT by Dennis Palumbo; IF YOU WANT TO WRITE by Brenda
Ueland; POEMCRAZY by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge
- Write write write. Write something every day.
Maybe it's just a long email to a friend. Or an entry in your
journal. But write something. Your writer brain will freeze if
- Pay attention! Watch people at the mall. Notice
how they walk and talk and dress. Notice the details. I always
like to see what people buy at the grocery store, and wonder why
they have bought things like lettuce and diet soda and chocolate
doughnuts at the same time.
- Collect names. I am always on the lookout for
fun names of places, and unusual people's names. Did you know
there is a Bucksnort, Tennesse, and a Toad Suck, Arkansas? I met
a Wal-Mart check-out girl named Santa Fe, and a make-up saleslady
named Kenitra. I keep lists of names in my journals. Which brings
- Keep a journal. If nothing else, it lets you
have a temper tantrum on paper without bothering anybody else.
It clears your head to vent all that stuff out so you can get
on with some real writing. But it can also help you to remember
all the little details of things you might want to use later.
I have journals all the way back to third grade.
- Eavesdrop. I know it's rude to listen in on
other's people conversations...but I think it's perfectly OK to
pay attention to what the person at the next restaurant table
is saying. Just don't LOOK like you're listening...they'll stop
talking! (One of the things I didn't like about living in Thailand
was that a lot of people didn't speak English..and I couldn't
- Learn from people who know more than you do.
If there are writer's classes or workshops available, take them.
I had written all my life, but I really kicked into high gear
when I was in the MFA program at Vermont College. (I highly recommend
this program for adults who are SERIOUS about writing for children.)
- Keep on writing...even if you get a million
rejection letters. Some people keep track of how many rejection
letters they got before they sold something. I didn't, because
I like to focus on NOT being rejected. However, I DO know that
my first picture book was rejected seventeen times before it was