Linda Ashman

I am SO excited to welcome November’s 12 x 12 featured author, Linda Ashman! I’ve met and worked with Linda in person and online several times. She is a phenomenal writer (seriously her rhyme blows my mind it’s SO great!), an equally fantastic mentor and now, she’s sharing her considerable talent with us. The only thing I don’t like about Linda is that she moved from Colorado to North Carolina, so I don’t get to see her in person anymore. 🙁

Linda’s latest step in her distinguished career as a picture book writer was to publish an ebook sharing her extensive knowledge both as a writer and a writing teacher — The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. Folks, this book MUST go onto your virtual shelves. I’ve read all 150+ pages of it and there is so much juicy goodness in there it will make your head spin (how many more cliches can I use in one intro??). Not since Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books has there been a tome I recommend so highly for picture book authors.

Linda is generously giving away both a picture book critique AND a free copy of Nuts & Bolts. So we’ll have two lucky winners this month! In the meantime, soak up all the knowledge and wisdom contained in her guest post here on bad beginnings and how to fix them. Welcome Linda!

Beyond the Bad Beginning

If you’ve read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), you know it’s okay to write “shitty first drafts”—that even the best books begin badly. Still, if you’re like me, you’re convinced that no one’s first drafts are as irredeemably drecky as your own.

In today’s post, I plan to prove that (a) my first drafts are, actually, much worse than yours, and (b) even the most pathetic beginnings can be turned into compelling—and salable—manuscripts. To do that, I’ll share some of my own unlovely work, then offer ten tips for getting beyond the bad beginning.

In The Nuts and Bolts Guide I talk about how I struggled with the rhyme pattern for my book Creaky Old House—so much so that I wound up writing three versions, each in a different meter. While I share the first stanzas of each version in the Guide, I don’t share the inauspicious beginning that preceded them.

The idea for the story—then called “Rickety House”—was pretty skimpy: a wacky family lives in an old house that’s well-loved but needs lots of repairs, with one repair leading to another and another. Because my son—like many 4 year olds at the time—was a Bob the Builder devotee, I wanted to include some tools and construction action as well. With those basic ideas in mind, I grabbed a pad and scribbled the following:

Aunt — came to visit.

But the doorknob came off in her hand.

My word! Huffed Aunt Rita
Oh these old houses! Aunt Rita complained
They’re nothing but trouble
No trouble at all, my Papa exclaimed.
I just need a . . . screw. / thingamajig.

We went to the basement.
To the basement!
We searched through
Through piles of nails and
And . .

We found rusty old nails
And —- pails
Buckets and screwdrivers, hammers and —
Sandpaper, saws and – and –
But no screw.

No problem, said Dad.
The hardware store
And find a new knob.

Does the word “gibberish” come to mind? There’s little evidence of a story here, much less a rhyming one. A pretty flimsy platform to build on, but I had a strategy—or at least a next step. Since the family was headed to the hardware store, I brainstormed construction and renovation-related terms and jotted them on the same page, figuring this might give me some direction and generate phrases with rhyme potential (you can see the actual draft here: Creaky First Draft). Then I sat at my computer and started typing, hoping to clarify—or at least add to—the story in the process. Here’s the next iteration:

Aunt Bess came by to say hello
But the doorknob came off in her hand.

And the doorknob came right off.

“No problem, Bess,” my dad
just a little screw is all we need
I’ll get one from my workbench/workshop

To the basement
We cleared the cobwebs, wiped the dust
Found – and an ancient sandwich crust
Searched through buckets, bins and pails
Through nuts and bolts and – and nails
And then—at last!—we found a screw.
“aha!” said Dad. “this one should do.”

I’ll fix that doorknob lickety split.
Too bad. The — — didn’t fit.

Brackets, pliers, wrenches, clamps
Trowels, vises, mallets,
Tacks, drills, drill bits, scrapers,

Found brackets, trowels, pliers, tacks
Rags and workbooks, stacks and stacks!

Papa scratched his head.
Mama heaved a sigh.
“seems this screw won’t do the job.
We’ll buy ourselves a brand new knob.

Hmm. Not much better, is it? The story, such as it is, doesn’t make sense, and has blank spots and unfinished sentences. My rhymes are minimal and mostly bad (and hint at the struggles with meter to come). Oh, and Aunt Rita is now Aunt Bess.

Bad as it was, I felt encouraged by this draft because I could see the barest outline of a story—an old house, a goofy family, and an escalating misadventure as they came up with increasingly elaborate solutions to address a minor problem (a broken doorknob). Plus it had good illustration potential and gave me the opportunity to use plenty of construction words.

Still, I had a long way to go just to make the story comprehensible, much less worthy of submission. So I wrote many, many dozens of drafts, and—as noted earlier—experimented with three different rhyme patterns. Nothing seemed to work. At several points I nearly threw in the towel, convinced that my struggles were a sure sign the manuscript was unpublishable. But I liked the idea, and liked a few of the stanzas, so I kept at it. And—eventually—the rhyme pattern clicked, the story fell into place, and I finished (for the time being; I did more revising after the story was acquired).

Although Creaky Old House required more work than most, all my manuscripts start out just as scraggly and unpromising. And many of them—actually, most of them—never get beyond that stage. So how do you know if your bad beginning has the potential to be a viable manuscript?

Well . . . you don’t. That’s the frustrating part. Few of us want to invest time in a story that’s not going anywhere, but it’s a necessary part of the process. You have to be willing to play around with an idea—to flesh out those early, scrawny drafts—to get a sense of where the story’s taking you. And you have to be willing to do the painstaking—and, yes, sometimes tedious—work of revising (and revising . . . and revising). This is where a lot of us get stuck—and discouraged. So here are a few suggestions to get you past the bad beginning toward that final, fabulous—and salable—manuscript:

1. Imagine your ending. Often, I know what’s on page 32 before I have any idea of what’s in the middle of my story. Having at least a vague sense of your destination makes it easier to get there.

2. Think incrementally. Yes, it’s good to keep your ending in mind, but you don’t have to have the entire story mapped out from the get-go. Just let the beginning lead you to the next step, then the next one, and the next one. Stuck? Then . . .

3. Brainstorm. If you look at my Creaky Old House early draft (Find it here: Creaky Early Draft), you’ll see lists of tools, doors, doorknobs, and hardware stuff along with strings of rhyming words. Similarly, my To the Beach drafts include long lists of beach paraphernalia. Do I use all these terms? No. But words beget ideas, and free-associating can stimulate creativity and lead your story in new directions.

4. Let it flow. As you probably noticed, my earliest drafts are barely coherent, filled with partial sentences and dashes when I couldn’t think of the right word. Don’t be nit-picky early in your writing process—just get your ideas on paper. Later, when you’ve got your story figured out, you can obsess about clarity, word choice, grammar and punctuation.

5. Experiment. Your story’s written in third person? Change it to first. The little girl is narrating the story? Try letting the goldfish tell it. It’s written in rhyme? Change the meter, or write it in prose. Switch things up and see what happens.

6. Visualize your story. Sometimes I can “see” the story before I can write it. For my book Rain!, for example, I made a rough (very rough) storyboard to map out the action, then figured out the text later (you can see just how rough my storyboard is here: http://www.howtowritepicturebooks.com/1/post/2013/10/the-wisdom-of-making-dummies.html).

7. Change your scenery. I often read my drafts while walking around my neighborhood, pen in hand. Or I go to a coffee shop. Being in a different environment can give you a fresh perspective.

8. Let it go. Occasionally I start off with some self-imposed requirement that trips me up down the road. For example, after reading somewhere that repetition was a good thing in picture books, I decided To the Beach would be a “Story with Repetition.” So, as I wrote it, I repeated the same phrase over and over again (The car is packed. We’re on our way. We’re going to the beach today). Yes, repetition can be good. Sometimes. And other times it can be annoying. Once I let go of the repetition idea (admittedly, at an editor’s suggestion), I wrote a much stronger story.

9. Be open to serendipity. I’ve started several poetry collections that never quite came to fruition. But I expanded a few of the poems I’d written into manuscripts that eventually became picture books. Don’t be afraid to let your story take you in a different direction.

10. Be patient. Sometimes ideas aren’t ready to be hatched. If you can’t seem to get beyond your bad beginning, put your manuscript away for a while. Do not throw it away. I wrote Rub-a-Dub Sub in a week—two years after I’d relegated it to my file drawer as a nonstarter. Sometimes timing is everything.

Above all, don’t be discouraged. Your drafts are likely to look bad—really bad—before they start looking good. If you forget this, just remember Aunt Rita and Aunt Bess—neither of whom, by the way, made it to the final version of Creaky Old House. (See the final text here: Creaky Old House Final Text)

It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog, Julie. Thanks for having me!

ONE MORE THING FOLKS! Linda is teaming up with another of our fabulous 12 x 12 members — Susanna Hill — to offer a rhyme clinic on December 2nd. I HIGHLY encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Submissions are open until mid-November and all of the details are here.

Linda Ashman is the author of many critically acclaimed books for children, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a “how to” handbook for picture book writers. Her children’s books have been included on the “Best of the Year” lists of the New York Times, Parenting, Child, and Cookie magazines, Bank Street College of Education, the New York Public Library, and others. As a children’s poet, she’s been compared to Mary Ann Hoberman, Douglas Florian, and Jack Prelutsky; Kirkus called her poetry “as pithy and clever as Ogden Nash at his best.” You can learn more about Linda on her website: http://www.lindaashman.com

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Children's Books, Picture Books, Rhyming, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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134 Comments

  1. Linda, love these ideas. WOWEE! Especially #8. I’ve always resisted my stories taking me in a different direction. I am going to print this out and hang by my computer. We live on a farm so I have NO problem changing scenery. Even hopping on one of my horses and hitting the trail revives my writing. Thanks for this. *waving*

    • Thanks, Robyn! Ah, living on a farm sounds like a great source of inspiration, as does hitting the trail with your horse. Wish I could visit! *Waving* back.

  2. I own a copy of Linda’s new book, which is truly wonderful! I, too, wish she still lived in Colorado.
    She is surely missed. And her book RAIN is one of my recent favorites.

    • Hi, Caroline!! I miss you and Julie and all my CO writing friends. Great to “see” you here (doesn’t substitute for in person at the coffee shop, but it will do . . .).

  3. Linda, I think you’ve given me a new mantra–“Don’t be nit-picky…just get it on paper!” Excellent post.

  4. Stacy S. Jensen

    Thanks for the great tips. I’m still working my way through Nuts and Bolts. It’s great so far.

    • Hi, Stacy! Always good to see you. Thanks for getting the guide — I hope you find it helpful. By the way, we’re making our first trip to Ellijay in a few weeks. Looking forward to that!

  5. It’s hard to “let it flow!” I find myself second-guessing everything. But I am working on it.

    • I hear you, Wendy. But TRY to save the second-guessing for later. You’ll have plenty of time to go back and take things out once you get your ideas on paper.

  6. Thank you Julie, your articles are always so helpful!

  7. This is chock full of great information. . . . something I’ll probably need to revisit a few times. I’ve heard good thing about “Nuts and Bolts” so I’ll have to check it out sometime soon. Thanks for this!

  8. FIRST OF ALL, I’m so happy to know that there’s another good picture-book-writing craft book out there. I carry the Ann Whitford Paul book around in my bag, but there’s been a real lack of other good picture book writing books. SECOND, I’m glad I’m not the only one with terrible first drafts, and I am in such awe of your ability to make a good story AND make it rhyme.

    Also, I will confess that I misread your second step as “Think incredulously.” Which is often my second step. To make the story as weird as possible, and then see if there’s anything worth keeping in the piles of ridiculousness.

    • Hi, Julie. Think incredulously — I like that! Some of my favorite picture books have plenty of absurdity, so creating piles of ridiculousness sounds like an excellent place to start.

  9. Thanks for sharing some of your revision drafts. They make me feel much better.:)

  10. What a useful, info-packed post. Thank you so much for sharing your early drafts, as seeing the process is always so helpful. Wonderful!

  11. Gotta say this is one of the best 12x posts! It does me good to know that the beginner feeling is what every writer has…at the beginning! Julie, thanks so much for inviting Linda, and thank you Linda for sharing all this with us!

  12. WOW! Thank you, Julie, for having Linda as the November featured author. And thanks, Linda, for the valuable post. I checked out each link and it was so great seeing all your notes from first draft on! Now I DO feel better about my first drafts and my WIPs. I love that you said to hang on to them. I can’t bring myself to ditch the worst of them so it was encouraging when you said you brought Rub-a-Dub Sub to life! Your final text for Creaky Old House was just a barrel of fun. I love it! Thanks again!

  13. Linda, your post came at just the right time as I sifted through my 20 mss and felt so discouraged about all of them. Which one is “the one”??? Thanks for your suggestions and words of encouragment.

    • Hi, Deb. I definitely know that discouraged feeling. Don’t despair — there’s a gem in there somewhere. My (unsolicited) advice: choose the one which makes you feel most happy or excited (not the one you feel you SHOULD write, or that seems most marketable). In my experience, having fun is usually the best sign I’m on the right track. Good luck!

  14. What a great post! It’s so helpful to see the first stages of a manuscript and to get a sense of the writer’s journey. I’ve got picture book manuscripts I’ve rewritten many, many, many times, trying to find the key that unlocks a great story. Love your suggestions, Linda–especially about trying a new perspective in the story. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    • Thanks, Laurie! Yes, trying a new perspective — or otherwise shaking things up in some way — can really help when you’re feeling stuck. It can make you see your story in a new, fresh, way — sometimes just what we need.

  15. Thank you so much, Linda, for being brave enough to show us your initial drafts, so that we could see the progression from rough to polished. The final text shines! And it is so helpful to know that established writers have to go through the messiness of draft after draft as well. Your ten points are excellent. I look forward to reading Nuts and Bolts — if it’s anything like this post, it will be amazing.

  16. Love your encouraging post Linda and sharing some of your ‘creaky’ first drafts!

  17. This was the most inspirational post for me this year to date! Thank you Julie for having Linda, and thank you Linda for your generosity in sharing your process. I’ve got a ‘love’ of a rhyming story that has been giving me fits of frustration for close to a year now, yet I know a diamond awaits me to finally flush it out. I’m invigorated and excited at the very thought of it, and look forward to participating in the rhyming clinic with Susanna Leonard Hill! Thank you again. :0)

  18. I am so excited to read this new resource for picture book writers! Thank you, Linda, for this interesting and helpful post!

  19. Great post full of wonderful info! Having read Linda’s Nuts & Bolts Guide, I add my two cents to Julie’s – it is not to be missed and belongs on every PB writer’s shelf. Also, in regards to the Rhyme Clinic on December 2, I have not posted guidelines and info yet because we are in the middle of the Halloweensie Writing Contest over at my place, but I will post them probably by the end of this week!

  20. Linda you are seriously one of my favorite pb authors. I have most of your books and peruse them frequently. I’m a rhymer too and ,at the moment , very discouraged in the pb arena. I’m taking a breather but i know I will come back. Love all your encouraging words! Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, B.J. And, believe me, I know that discouraged feeling. This business can be very tough on the spirit. Hang in there, and write what you love. Good luck!

  21. Hi Linda! It’s great to see you as our author of the month! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I enjoyed seeing your before and after drafts.

  22. I LOVE this post, thank you Linda. It is so encouraging. Especially since I HATE writing first drafts, because mine are such crap. I just bought your book earlier this week, I’m excited to read and learn from it.

    • Hi, Darshana: Great to meet you! Thanks for buying the guide — I hope you find it helpful. And now you know that crappy first drafts are just par for the course (and I bet yours aren’t as bad as mine!).

  23. Great post. Around here, we call it “getting the garbage out”. It’s good to have some solid ideas about making the garbage into treasure. Thanks.

  24. Linda…may i please shrink you and keep you in my pocket. love this thank you. off to buy your book.
    kelly artist (mcdonald)

  25. Great post. So inspiring. Thank you so much for this.

  26. Wow, great advice Linda. Thanks so much. I have a tonne of abandoned mss some ten drafts in. One of them has to be workable.

  27. Such great advice, Linda! Love all your suggestions – especially #2 and 3!

  28. Great advice! I am working on a crummy first draft right now. I have the end in sight, and I just need to get there. I already have some ideas for rewriting, but the story needs to come out first. Thanks Linda!

    • Hi, Kirsten: Great to meet you! Sounds like you’re almost there . . . well, almost to the end of the crummy first draft, anyway. Sometimes that’s the hardest part. Good luck with it!

  29. Wow! Linda, your “before” examples are great, because they show that even experienced writers have to play with their ideas/structure/rhythm a lot to get everything to work well together. Hoping to win the book… but not sure I can wait that long to dig into it. I’ve had it on my wish list ever since you were featured on Tina Cho’s blog. Thanks for the great post!

  30. Marcia Berneger

    What great advice, especially for those of us who will soon be staring at 30 brand new picture book ideas. Sounds like your advice (and your book) will help us take some of those stories through to manuscripts, and beyond!

    • Hi, Marcia: Staring at 30 new picture book ideas is a very nice problem to have — SO much better than struggling to come up with one! But, yes, getting beyond the idea to the finished manuscript–that’s where the real work begins. Good luck!

  31. I love this post! Julie, thanks for having Linda and Linda, thanks for the choc-abloc of great advice and sharing your first and final draft. That is such a huge encouragement to see – especially how you went from sketchy rough to brilliant final draft!

    • Hi, Emily: Look at your beautiful baby — I see lots of inspiration in your future! So glad you found the post helpful (and “sketchy” is putting it nicely!).

  32. Linda, thanks so much for the great tips. It was so helpful to see your early drafts of Creaky Old House. I feel so much better about how rough my first drafts are.

    • Hi, Margaret! Glad you feel better about your rough drafts. They’re *supposed* to be messy in the beginning (and sometimes stay that way for quite a while).

  33. Thank you, Linda! This post arrives just when I need to read it!

  34. What a TREAT to be able to read your drafts and final manuscript! Thank you, Linda, for sharing your process. Your post is very helpful; my Inner Critic slows me down and often stops me from getting anything on paper! Looking forward to reading Nuts and Bolts. Thank you!

  35. Thanks for giving us a peek into your process, Linda. I have the opposite problem . . . I can think of a beginning, and middle, but not an ending! Looking forward to reading your book. . .

  36. This was a marvelous post Linda – thank you!

    I’m so glad my copy of “Nuts and Bolts” is an e-book. I would have broken the binding and worn out the pages from constant use if I had a paper copy! 🙂

  37. Bookmarked to read and reread such great and encouraging advice, Linda. Looking forward to reading Nuts and Bolts and Dec 2nd on Susanna’s blog.

  38. Thank you for your post. Lots of valuable information I REALLY need to take to heart.

  39. Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. Ashman! 😀

  40. A super post full of great tips and encouragement 😀 Thanks, Linda for the share of Creaky Old House’s progress!

  41. Wow! Thanks for the advise. I have a story idea whose draft looks just like the one you were kind enough to share. I’ve got a bit more energy to move forward with it because of your post. Thanks again.

  42. Honestly, it did help to see your ugly duckling poem before it became a swan. It looks like my own efforts! Thanks for the encouragement.

  43. Kathy Cornell Berman

    Thanks for the encouraging words and tips. It was so helpful to see your first draft and your lists of words.Thanks for sharing.

  44. Thanks so much, Linda! Boy do I have a few doozies in my drawer which I have hidden away for awhile. But I look forward to taking them out someday soon and seeing what I can do.

  45. Again, we’ve been to SCHOOL, folks! Great ideas that give hope to neglected but now not forgotten ideas. I’m on a writing retreat and the last few days been reviewing old efforts, and your words, Linda, encourage me to resurrect those notions. I particularly like #3, Brainstorming, with the whole idea of marginal notions. That’s harder to do on screen than on paper, and I’ve written–actually hand-written–some of my ideas this week and discovered that little edge of free association. Thanks for a wonderful post.

  46. Thank you so much for this, Linda. I’ve had this hanging around in my inbox since November 1 and have read it at least 4 times already. There’s so many great ideas here. I really appreciate how you’ve given us a glimpse into your working process, both here and by sharing some of your manuscripts on your website. Thanks for helping light the way for other writers.

    PS. We recently found Rain at the library and my 4yo liked it a lot!

  47. Wonderful, inspiring, informative post … thanks so much, Linda!!

  48. Linda, I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of CREAKY OLD HOUSE. It was brave of you to reveal your first draft – mine always feel like a dark writerly secret! My four-year-old daughter loved hearing BABIES ON THE GO when she was a baby herself, and now NO DOGS ALLOWED is one of her favorite stories. Thank you for your books!

  49. Thank you for a very nice and very helpful post. I think I need to start putting ideas on index cards more. When they sit on a computer I don’t usually pull them back out to take a fresh look.

  50. It’s great to see you here, Linda! Thank you so much for this practical post. I’m stuck in the discouraging revising (and revising…and revising) stage, so I found your post both insightful and hopeful.

  51. I had already planned to feature CREAKY OLD HOUSE on my blog for Picture Book Month when I read this post, so I updated my post (for teachers) to see this post too. http://www.marcieatkins.com/2013/11/18/picture-book-month-day-18-picture-books-writing-mentor-texts-featuring-creaky-old-house/

    I absolutely love that book!! Thanks for sharing the inside scoop. I also recently bought your picture book instruction book. Can’t wait to jump in and read it.

  52. Better late than never! Great list of things to remember as we write (and struggle through) that first draft … And second and third and …. I’ve bookmarked this page!

  53. Thanks, Linda. Great advice. I, too, have come across old manuscrtipts that I had given up on and found new ways to make them work. 🙂

  54. Such a great post!!! Thanks so much for it and for the reminders. 🙂

  55. Love this Linda! Nice to know I’m not the only one with those crappy first drafts. Although I must admit that I was kinda hoping that at some point I’d be able to dash off picture book perfection in minutes. Nuts. LOL! 🙂

  56. It’s always great to see the process of writing from idea, draft, revision after revision, to published!

  57. Great tips. Thanks for sharing, Linda.

  58. Thank you for sharing that terrific example of your process! It’s really helpful to see how other writers work!

  59. An excellent post – such meaty tips you’ve shared. Just getting it down has been what I’ve been doing this month for NaNoWriMo and I am a winner!

  60. It s so fascinating to see how someone else’s manuscript can change with subtle differences – thank you for sharing!

  61. So much here to help us grow as writers. Love it all. I often wondered if all the time I spent revising and revising and revising a ms was worth it. I decided YES. Whether that ms is published or not — or even finished — the work spent on it benefits the next ms. It’s all good.

  62. What a wonderful reminder to let the stories percolate until it’s the right time.

  63. Thought I commented when I first read this very informative and wonderful post. Thanks for sharing some of your experiences.

  64. Great post! Thanks for sharing your process and some of your early drafts with us.

  65. I’m just lucky that Julie is so forgiving and gives us links to come an comment WAY after the post goes up.:) Somehow I was SURE I had left a comment here…but obvious, not.:(

    Thank you, Linda! This was like a mini-workshop…what an awesome nuts and bolts list. I appreciate you sharing the drafts and how completely different your story might be when it is published. And I LOVE the brainstorm idea…I tend to want to write the whole story, from start to finish, just as it should be, when I first write it. It will help me to just jot down the words that come to mind…and not worry about it being ‘perfect’.

    I’m looking forward to participating in the Rhyme Clinic on Dec 2…it is good of you to do that.

  66. This post is brimming over with helpful information! Thank you for sharing. I’ll be using these tips!!!

  67. thank you so much for all your hard work towards making my ms awesome!

  68. Love All these Nuggets Of InFormation.

  69. thank you for a wonderful post 🙂

  70. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. It is encouraging to see someone else take a draft through multiple revisions and come out on top eventually. There is hope! =0)

  71. Sharalyn Edgeberg

    Thanks for the great information. I look forward to getting your book. Thanks for the 10 tips.

  72. Wonderful tips. I printed them out and have them in my writing space. Thank you!

  73. Printing this now!

  74. Great ideas and great tips. Thanks for showing that it’s okay for the first drafts to be really bad. What’s important is to get the basic idea onto paper before you forget what it is you wanted to write about!

  75. What great tips! I write mostly in rhyme and love your inspiration to not give up. I am definitely getting your book!! Thank you!

  76. I love #7–change the scenery. Walking around the neighborhood reading my draft sounds like fun! I used to write at Starbucks–don’t know why I stopped. So many distractions at home!

  77. Love it thank you

  78. Linda, it was so neat to have insight into your writing process! Thanks for sharing all that with us, including how your story ended up in its final version (loved it!). We can see how your ideas and the narrative developed.

  79. Hi Linda,
    My critique group has been raving about you for 2 years, and now I see why. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!
    Beth Thaler

  80. Thanks Linda. Thanks for sharing your early drafts. Very inspiring post.

  81. Linda, thanks so much for your thoughts. Every one of them has reinforced everything I’ve been thinking/doing as a newbie writer finding my way on my journey. Congrats on your success!

  82. Linda, thanks for some super ideas. Had never thought to write out the words associated with the story & see where they may take me. Also inspired to dust off some of those old “going nowhere” drafts & see if maybe I was mistaken.

  83. Thanks for your post. I particularly appreciate points 9 and 10. 🙂

  84. There is a lot of wonderful advice here. Oddly enough I always have the ending in mind when working on a longer piecer but have never tried it when writing a picture book. I’m going to try it now though.

  85. What great advice! Number 8 is a personal favorite. It’s also one of the most difficult for me. 🙂

  86. Sorry for commenting so late. I thought I had already commented, but when I checked (because of Julie’s check-in) I don’t see my name. So sorry if this is also a repeat: Thanks for sharing your draft of Creaky Old House. It was fun seeing its progression.

  87. Really enjoyed seeing the progression of your MS. I found it inspiring – thank you.

  88. Great ideas, and I think it’s marvelous that you’re willing to “bare all” and let us see your early drafts–very inspiring. I let my mss percolate in my brain after writing and before revising. Sometimes my books take a new direction after that!

  89. I dashed out a MG novel last year in the NaNoWriMo month, and have now rewritten the first few chapters for at least the tenth time. It’s all about revision!

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