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Tip Tuesday #145

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

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.

You can find Carrie at her websites here and here.

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.

 

45 comments:

  1. Excellent tip. Enjoy your blog tour, Carrie.

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    1. Hi Angela! Great to see you last weekend at SCBWI-MI!

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  3. That's actually a very good tip. Freeing your mind from the need for the words, opened your mind to let pictures and scenes flow...thus a chance to put words to those pictures and move forward from being "stuck in the muck."

    I like that. Thanks!

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  4. the place that exists under the words

    I love this. And, it pretty well illustrates the concept. Often, the very best experiences in writing have been those times when I get to that place under the words.
    thanks for the tip

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    1. Best experiences when writing...I agree, Marv. It happens when I'm running too. I end up somewhere without being conscious of how I got there!

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  5. That is exactly the tip I needed to hear. Thanks for that! :)

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  6. A warm winter's tail sounds adorable!! Thanks for the thoughtful writerly tip! Take care
    x

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    1. It did turn out better than I ever hoped! Thanks!

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  7. Thanks, Casey and Natalie, for hosting me today and thanks for all the great comments. I hope Tip #145 helps!

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  8. I've seen your book around the internet. I love Sylvan Dell Books. Congratulations! Thanks for the great tip, too! Good luck on your MG.

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    1. Glad to hear you've seen it. I love Sylvan Dell books, too. Thank you re: the MG! :)

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  9. Thanks for the tip, Carrie. A Warm Winter Tail sounds sweet. Kids will love it.

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    1. Thanks, Rachna. Children do seem to like it. They are mesmerized by the illustrations!

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  10. I really, really like this tip. I write both picture books and middle grade and this tip will certainly work for all my stories. Thank you!
    Congrats on A Warm Winter Tail!

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    1. Thank you, Kelly. I hope it helps on some level!

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  11. You're so right. Whenever I'm stuck and the words just seem to jumble together, I close my eyes and picture the scene and let it go.

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    1. Yes! That's what I do too! Lucky I can type with my eyes closed!

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  12. Perfect advice Carrie, and congrats on your new book! Funny, this was the topic I started to write about for my last Tip Tuesday post, but then I ended up in a different direction. You did a much better job of explaining what I had been thinking - thank you!

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    1. Ha! I doubt it, but thank you. Take a stab at it. I'd love to read what you are thinking on the topic.

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  13. Wonderful tip! A nice one to have handy when I'm having those 'word-finding' issues!

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    1. Ha! Searching for words is my least favorite part of writing. Strange, huh?

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  14. This is excellent advice and it makes se se to focus on the scene now that you say it. It's like looking at the puzzle picture on the box and then letting that guide hiw the little pieces fit together. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  15. Funny but we've been having this very discussion in a reading group I'm part of. And it's so true.

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    1. That is funny/weird. I've noticed certain topics seem to bubble up at the same time...

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  16. An image to fit the intention . . . Love That. And I can use it. I'm stuck right now. This is perfect, thank you.

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    1. Ha! Hope you aren't still stuck, Linda. ;)

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  17. What a sweet and obviously instructive book. Very nice. And I agree, getting bogged down in the details often stops you from seeing the bigger picture--the idea you want to express. You can always go back and play with the language. Get that idea down first and stay unstuck. Nicely put here in your post.

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  18. What awesome advice!! I agree - don't worry about the words, just write. It's great to see a writer from Michigan. I grew up there. :D

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    1. Hi Lisa, fellow Michigander! Where did you grow up?

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  19. I LOVE the cover.

    I don't worry about the word count, and that includes my daily word count. There's no point. It's only going to change. Of course, by the time you get to the final drafts, you'll want to cut back if the count is too high.

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    1. I love the cover too. Christina Wald is amazing. You can see more of her work at www.christinawald.com.

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  20. Great tip, Carrie! When things get tough, it always helps to go back to the basics and not think so hard. The fixing and perfecting can happen during revision, but you can't revise if you don't have any words on the paper! :)

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  21. Thank you for the tip Carrie! Enjoy the rest of your blog tour!

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  22. Carrie,

    What a charming TAIL ... seriously though, this sounds adorable. Kids will LOVE it. I wish I knew one this age to buy your book.

    Thanks for the great tip and thanks Natalie for featuring Carrie.

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  23. Carrie, stuck in the muck of perfect words is my greatest challenge. I will keep and re-read your post above and do my best to internalize it. Thanks for sharing a great truth about intentional writing.
    Thanks Natalie and Casey for hosting Carrie.

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    1. It is my greatest challenge, too. I hope to be less focused on words for my next writing project. Strange thought! ;)

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