Tips for Writing Picture Books: Keep Learning

It’s important to know ONE thing: You don’t know EVERYthing. So …

Keep Learning

I debated on whether to call this post Find the Right Critique Partners or Be the Worst … and Learn from People Better than You. I think there are a couple points I want to touch on regarding progression with your craft.

First, you don’t have to do it alone. The kidlit community, both online and in person, is full of friendly people who cheer each other on. Whether through SCBWI, PiBoIdMo, 12×12, or one of the many social networking groups, there is a profusion of resources available. You just have to ask.

Baby Hedgehog *

Find a critique group. This is critical. It sounds like a cheesy acknowledgements section of a middle grade novel, but the truth is that I’d be nowhere without the many critique partners who’ve made my writing better over the years.

But don’t be the best in your critique group. If you want to keep improving your writing, be sure to work with people who are better than you (by this, I mean better at writing). I can definitively say I have never been the best one in any of my groups – and that fact has played a large role in any success I may have had.

There are many other ways to continue learning. One is by going to conferences, retreats, and workshops. This can get expensive and potentially prohibitive, but luckily lots of classes have popped up online that range from very affordable webinars to even free (see Nerdy Chicks Write Summer School, currently in session).

Read books in the genre you write. This is important for several reasons. It will help keep your focus on the audience for which you’re writing. It will also give you an idea of the business side of the writing world. What are publishers buying? What are librarians, teachers, parents, and children enjoying?

How do you keep learning? Do you find it important to continue expanding your knowledge of kidlit? Why?

Next time I’ll share why it’s important to …

[fill in later before you post this, otherwise you might look kind of silly and you wouldn’t want that, would you, Josh?]

Wow, that sounds like an interesting topic! Betcha can’t wait to hear about that!


See all of Josh Funk’s 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books

Lesson #1: So, You Wrote a Book. Now What?
Lesson #2: Picture Books Are Short
Lesson #3: Every Word Counts
Lesson #4: The Illustrator Is Your Partner
Lesson #5: Show Don’t Tell
Lesson #6: Write with Active Emotion
Lesson #7: Story Arc Components
Lesson #8: Don’t Write In Rhyme
Lesson #9: Rhyming Is All About Rhythm
Lesson #10: Some Ideas Don’t Work
Lesson #11: Keep Learning
Lesson #12: Now You’re Ready! Dive In!

* You might be wondering why I inserted a picture of a baby hedgehog earlier in this post. If you are, then you’re not thinking hard enough.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Writing Picture Books: Keep Learning

  1. Learning and seeking mentors are beneficial in so many areas and in so many ways. Writing is such a journey…and the journey is where the fun is! I mean, what if in THE WIZARD OF OZ Dorothy didn’t meet The Scarecrow (or the Tin Man or The Lion?
    The journey is often more fun with others!
    As always – thanks Josh!
    I think I know why you picked a hedge hog.


  2. Just read through this fantastic series in a sitting, great advice! And thanks for the link to the RhymeWeaver! I’ve been trying to find something about rhythm WITHOUT rhyme…come across any posts or workshops like that you might care to share?


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