Showing Up


Writing picture books is a strange process.

For me it often starts with a name or a line that pops into my head for no obviously apparent reason.

And I get all excited and rush to the computer. If I’m lucky things start spinning off from it but more often than not I get that first little gem down and it just ‘is what it is’ and no more. It refuses to tell me anything more about itself for ages and ages.

Like this morning. A few days ago a new character turned up and I thought ‘fantastic, here we go’. But for two mornings I’ve sat staring at those opening lines and been completely at a loss. ‘What am I supposed to do with you?’ I keep thinking.

I keep trying things and I’m just not feeling that spark. Sometimes it feels like the ideas have emigrated to warmer climes – or at least they’re hibernating. Most of the time I have to hunt around for them and even the blighters that arrive of their accord I then need to work out what to do with, like this one today.

So where do you get ideas? Some people seem blessed with a head full of the things but surely everyone has duff days. What then?

Personally, I like to go nosing around to see how other people manage it. And the first thing I always find is that I’m not the only one struggling with this, which is always nice.

Lots of people advise getting away from the screen and leaving it to stew for a bit, while you go off and do something else entirely, like a walk or a bath or taking the kids swimming. That’s fine and sometimes it works for me, too – but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I sit down and I still haven’t had that spark of ‘that’s it, that’s what I’m missing’. And what if there is a deadline? We might not be able (or want) to sit around waiting for that spark of inspiration. What do we do then?

I usually do what Elizabeth Gilbert suggests – I just keep turning up. Her talk is fantastic, the way she describes The Muse always makes me smile. So if you need something reassuring and inspiring, watch it now!

So, that’s I’ve been doing today – as well as writing this post.

I’m here, O Muse, doing my thing – so when you’re ready to do your thing I’ll be glad to see you!

Only please hurry up…

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