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  • Writer's pictureJudy

Oct. 17, 2021: Workshop Take-A-Ways

This week I finished watching the video recordings of some Boot Camp Workshops that were provided through SCBWI ( The Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators). These workshops were facilitated by successful authors, agents and publishers in the world of Children’s Literature.

While it was wonderful to get insight into the journey to publication from some of the authors, and to hear the agents talk about what made submissions stand out for them, and to work through the process of creation with some editors, there were some definite themes that ran through all of the presentations. These were my key take-a-ways:

- Rules are not carved in stone.

o As writers, we walk that fine line between creativity and the rules of writing. Rules of grammar, rules of publication, rules of genre.

What I heard again and again was- yes- know the industry guidelines, but don’t be afraid to break the rules if the story you are trying to tell requires it. That is not to say that all rules go out the window, but if you have a really good reason for not following a specific rule, go for it!

- Putting a manuscript in a drawer does not have to be forever.

o Every writer deals with rejection and almost every successfully published book was rejected at some point. Setting that manuscript aside is not admitting failure. Sometimes a manuscript needs to rest. As one publisher shared, “Every day quality manuscripts are rejected.” It is just not the right publisher or the right time for that manuscript. Setting aside that story and letting it breathe and letting some time pass can sometimes be the best thing for the long-term. Revisiting those manuscripts from time to time to see if there are revisions that can be made, or to see if perhaps they are more relevant now, can be very productive.

- You are never done growing as a writer.

o Even the most successful writers who presented at these workshops, had growth-mindset language. They talked about lessons learned, personal breakthroughs, and struggles and challenges. They talked about next steps, forward thinking, and honest evaluation of weaknesses. They talked about their strengths, as well as the areas that they were focused on for growth. They were forward thinking and often pointed out that they were only one voice and one experience.

- Trust your muse and keep writing

o If there is a story to tell, and you believe you are the right one to tell it, persevere. If you have hit a wall with your current manuscript, work on another piece for a while. Experiment with different genres. Get feedback from a different source. Just write and write and write.

I always leave workshops inspired, rejuvenated, and with much to think about. This set of workshops was no different. Thank you SCBWI!

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