Hi All! Natalie here. Today I'm excited to share a tip by debut picture author Carrie Pearson. She's a Michigan SCBWI author. Her book, A WARM WINTER TAIL, was released on August 10, 2012.
Carrie is a former early education teacher and professional fundraiser whose first book, A Warm Winter Tail, is hitting the shelves now. She is currently querying her MG historical novel, Chasing Home.
More details on the book are below Carrie's tip.
Getting Unstuck with Intention
All writers find themselves at the frustrating place where the right words aren’t coming. My tip for getting unstuck seems counter intuitive, but it works. Ready?
Don’t worry about the words.
As I struggled with a lyrical picture book manuscript about how animals adapt to cold (that eventually became A Warm Winter Tail), I noticed if I focused on words, I became stuck in the muck of writing and made no progress. But if I focused on the intention behind the scene, images popped into my head. For example, my goal for the first scene was to describe how a fox stays warm in the winter but in a way that was relatable and easy for children to remember. (Notice my intention wasn’t to alliterate amazingly or to find words with the perfect meter.) As I meandered through all the ways humans keep warm, a vivid picture of wrapping my daughter in cozy blanket appeared. Aha! A fox tail is like a blanket! That’s a relatable, memorable image!
Once I had an image that fit my intention, I could focus on voice, literary devices, structure, etc. and work through the details for that scene.
Although this example is about a picture book, the same strategy works for any writing. When I wrote my MG historical novel and found myself stuck in the muck of writing, I’d revert back to intention: what is the point of this scene, of this thing I am writing? What is the deeper thought I’m trying to express? I let go of show vs. tell, real action vs. movement, overwriting or underwriting, etc., etc. etc. and … I went to the place that exists under the words. Even though it felt like taking a step backward, it never failed to move the writing forward.
When you are stuck -- and if you are a writer, you will be – step back to intention and enjoy what happens.
Here's a blurb on A WARM WINTER TAIL from Goodreads:
Do you ever wonder how animals stay warm in the winter? Well they wonder how humans do too In a twist of perspective, wild creatures question if humans use the same winter adaptation strategies that they do. Do they cuddle together in a tree or fly south to Mexico? Take a look through an animal's eyes and discover the interesting ways that animals cope with the cold winter months in this rhythmic story. 4 pg For Creative Minds educational section in the back
You can find A WARM WINTER TAIL on Amazon.
Hope to see you on Thursday when I'll be doing a guest post at Adventures in YA and Children's Publishing on what I've learned about reading.