Welcome to DAY SIX of NAPIBOWRIWEE!
Can you believe it? Only two days left! In 48 hours, you will be the proud author of 7 first draft picture books written in 7 days, thanks to my fourth annual National Picture Book Writing Week goal!
I am so proud that y’all are still in it to win it! For those of you who successfully finished five first drafts of picture books – congratulations! For those of you who are still working on Books 1, 2, 3, and/or 4, hang in there!
Today’s blog includes a special prize announcement from critically acclaimed and veteran picture book author ANN WHITFORD PAUL, plus some more random musings from me and other updates.
(Please keep reading after the jump for all the NaPiBoWriWee Day Six goodies!)
For Day Six, I wanted to introduce you to the WONDERFUL ANN WHITFORD PAUL. She’s an award-winning veteran children’s picture book author. I remember meeting her at an SCBWI critique picnic event more than ten years ago when I was just a newbie aspiring non-published children’s book writer. I was amazed by her insightful advice and devoured all her picture books. A strange coincidence – a few years later, I would end up working with her brother, actor Bradley Whitford, when I was a staff writer on NBC’s THE WEST WING. (He played the character of Josh Lyman on that show.) What a talented family!
Ann Whitford Paul writes picture books, poetry and early readers. Her books have won numerous awards including NY Times Notable books, Carl Sandburg Award for Children’s Literature, Bank Street College Best Books list, Notable Science and Social Studies Books, National Parenting Centers “Seal of Approval,” 2001 Recognition of Merit from the George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books of the Claremont Graduate University, and been nominated for numerous state reading awards. She is the author of the popular WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication.
Ann has graciously offered TWO prizes for this year’s NAPIBOWRIWEE. Winners (chosen at random) will win these personally autographed books:
WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul (Writers’ Digest Books 2009)
WORD BUILDER by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (Simon & Schuster 2009)
Thank you, Ann! For more info on Ann and her wonderful books, check out her website here: http://annwhitfordpaul.net/
I wanted to blog again about DISTRACTION. Because I know real life just gets in the way of writing. I know everyone has children’s soccer games to attend, dinners with friends, dealing with house repairs, work deadlines, or fill-in-the-blank massive distraction that ruins your plan to take some time off to write.
And then we have the temptations of FACEBOOK, TWITTER, all forms of social media, emails, etc.! So how do you deal with the INTERNET when it sucks you into its procrastination vortex?
I wanted to share with you this amazing article from POETS & WRITERS Magazine (I subscribe to this magazine, it’s fantastic).
The article, “Inner Space: Clearing Some Room for Inspiration” by Frank Bures, brought up some great points about how much INFORMATION we digest every day just from being on the Internet.
The article link is here:
From his article:
“Scientists at the University of California in San Diego calculated that in 2008 (a year after the original iPhone was released) Americans consumed thirty-four gigabytes of information per day, the equivalent of one hundred thousand words—or 350 percent more than we consumed on a given day in 1980.
“Not surprisingly, there has been an avalanche of stories about the effect this is having on us, and specifically about what this means for our brains. Most of the news is not so good: One study suggests our lack of downtime is lowering our ability to think critically and to analyze. Others claim distraction causes loss of IQ points, and that it can take up to twenty-five minutes to regain our focus after an e-mail or phone call. Another study estimates that distraction is costing the U.S. economy around $650 billion a year in lost productivity. Much of this research seems to validate the words of the Roman thinker Publilius Syrus who said: ‘To do two things at once is to do neither.’
“These deleterious effects are catalogued at length in Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Norton, 2010).
“This is an increasingly common lament among writers these days. Novelist Richard Powers, author most recently of Generosity: An Enhancement (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), says that he used to work for twelve or fourteen hours straight, but that such immersion has become impossible. In her lecture after receiving the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature, Doris Lessing said: ‘Writers are often asked, ‘How do you write? With a word processor? An electric typewriter? A quill? Longhand?’ But the essential question is, ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?’ Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas—inspiration.’
“Other writers such as Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, and Jonathan Lethem have gone on record saying they write on Internet-disabled computers. There is, of course, a very good reason for this.
“In his landmark book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (HarperCollins, 1996), psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses the five stages of creativity—preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration. Of these, it seems that at least three, if not four, are incompatible with the constant influx of new and fascinating information we encounter online. What creativity needs most of all is time for the mind to percolate, to mix old ideas together in new ways, and to find connections no one else has found. For this the mind must be left to itself.
“In Creativity, Csikszentmihalyi identified four major obstacles that keep people from creative accomplishment: psychic exhaustion, easy distraction, inability to protect/channel creative energy, and not knowing what to do with that energy.”
To read more, go to this link to read the entire article: http://www.pw.org/content/inner_space_clearing_some_room_for_inspiration_0?cmnt_all=1
I was so floored by the information in this article, that I bought and read the books Bures recommended. I highly recommend these books – they really open your mind to how the Internet can sometimes be a block to creativity. It’s GOOD to research and explore social media and the Internet for discovering new information. But sometimes, too much information can lead to an overload where you can’t find that “zen” to take the information you’ve learned, process it, and WRITE.
Here are the links to those books:
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (HarperCollins, 1996)
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (Norton, 2010)
So how do we apply all this fancy schmancy theory talk to NAPIBOWRIWEE?
Here’s my suggestion on how to use these FIVE stages of creativity to writing 7 picture books in 7 days. Every day, follow these five steps to inspire you to finish one picture book each day!
1. Preparation: Spend a quiet amount of time (whatever you can spare, 15 minutes to an hour), and re-read a favorite picture book that you want to inspire you, or a favorite writing book (like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird). Think about what area you want to write about for Book No. 6 – will it be a poem? A funny story? A quiet Good Night Moon type story? Will it be about an animal or human character? Will it be based on your own childhood experiences? What theme are you interested in exploring?
2. Incubation: Then get your work done – be it at the office, school, or at home. Let what you read gestate in your brain.
3. Insight: When you have another 15 minutes (or one hour) available, brainstorm on your idea. Think about the picture books that inspire you, the writing book advice that you feel is helpful for this idea. Write everything down on paper – your outline or your notes or your brainstorms of where you want this story to go. What’s the beginning/middle/end? Who is your character? What do they want? What’s in their way? How do they overcome the obstacle? How do they change at the end of the story?
4. Evaluation: When you have another free hour, read over these notes and evaluate which ideas/thoughts/sentences you wrote down are worth keeping in the draft.
5. Elaboration: When you are ready – WRITE. Don’t correct or self edit yourself. Just get the draft done.
Then… after NaPiBoWriWee ends, you can go back and follow these five steps again when you revise your first draft!
And if all else fails with Internet distractions, do what I do when I need to “break the glass in case of emergency.” MAC FREEDOM. You download the software from this program that BLOCKS all Internet access (email, Facebook etc.) for anywhere from 15 minutes to EIGHT HOURS.
The only way to get online? SHUT DOWN YOUR COMPUTER.
So here’s the link if you’re interested:
As for myself… well, unfortunately, I had to rush to the Apple Store in the afternoon to fix this problem. Check out this picture…
Long story short: Since February, I have had this problem. Every day, about 50 times or more per day, these scary “checkerboard pixels” flash across my screen. I’ve been to the Apple Store several times to get a bunch of things done to my computer, from having it re-set to re-installing the software to removing third-party plug apps and replacing the logic board AND the RAM. Nothing has worked. So when these pixels flashed AGAIN today, I had to take the compute BACK to the store. Which ruined my perfectly planned “Writing Saturday.” Boo!
So I lost a lot of time in the store, waiting for them to fix this problem. Fortunately, the geniuses at the Apple Genius Bar are definitely geniuses! YAY!
But talk about a massive distraction for NaPiBoWriWee today!
But… the good news? I came home and managed to finish Book No. 4 today on Day 5. I also came up with a non-fiction idea for Book No. 5 and did some major research and took notes.
So at the end of Day Five, I have FOUR really really rough drafts done plus an idea and rough outline for Book Five.
The goal for Day Six? WRITE the draft for Book Five and brainstorm an idea for Book Six. I always fall behind in my OWN NaPiBoWriWee event. I wonder if it’s also because I have to write a blog too every day! LOL!
I have Monday off, so the goal is to use Day 7 to TRY and write two books at once. We’ll see if it actually happens. I’m behind by one book. Fingers crossed!
So that’s it for DAY SIX. Please keep your comments coming. I’ve read them all but haven’t had time to reply specifically to everyone because of my computer mishap today. I’ll catch up by tomorrow night.
For your DAY SIX blog inspiration, here’s my cat Oreo dealing with my computer problems. LOL!
DAY SEVEN BLOG will be posted before 12 PM PST on Monday May 7th. Until then, I look forward to your comments on Day Six and I hope you guys are hanging in there! And as I’ve mentioned before, everyone who comments or emails me (paula at paulayoo dot com) will be included in the special prize contest drawing at the end of the week with special prizes, including Ann Whitford Paul’s autographed books! Thanks again, Ann!
Until the next blog… Happy Writing! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!