What Now? Moving Closer to Your Children’s Book Manuscript


Have you written today? Have you written for 7-15 days in a row? Well, congratulations. You are now on your way to completing a book. Now that you’ve got several days worth of unkempt verbiage, what do you do with it?  Well here are some ideas:

Mine the gems. Look back through the last 15 days of writing. If you’ve just been writing for yourself, chances are you won’t have a complete book…but maybe you do! In any case, pull out the best material and put it all in a document or a folder. Mine is labeled “stars.”

Polish the stones. Take the stuff that you have that seems like it’s going somewhere and build upon it, make a draft.  Even if you just take a single line and use it as spring board.

Share it. Once you’ve got a draft of something find a trusted friend, a writing group, a teacher, a peer or me! Share it and get some feedback.

Save it for later. If nothing is striking your fancy, just tuck it in that proverbial kitchen drawer (I actually have a folder on my computer called “kitchen drawer.”)

Write some more! Keep at it.

Still Writing? 15 minutes a day, 15 days in a Row. Reap the editorial discounts

E B WhiteRemember to tweet the number of minutes that wrote each day (try to do at least 15) with the hash tag #tamsonwestonbooks2016, and I’ll give you a discount.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from EB White to inspire you: Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than a whole one. Now you’ve got something to write about!

2016 Writing Habit: Let’s Write Some Children’s Books!

This is my 3 day check in on your 15 day writing habit. How’s it going? Have you been writing? Are you still gearing up?  If nothing else, you should develop a habit out of this practice. If you find yourself needing a bit more help in making your daily quota, here are some resources:

Lifehacker: on developing a habit

On Brainpickings:

Hemingway’s writing advice.

David Foster Wallace’s writing advice

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Be sure to poke around that site some more because there’s a lot of inspiration pertaining to children’s books and literature in general.

Some Writing Prompts

A Timer!

Some chocolate for your reward (15 pieces! One for each day!)

5 Things to Help Kill the Winter Blues and Write Children’s Books

Look at me! I’m writing! It’s been a good, solid, busy year, but I’ve been having pangs….nonblogging pangs.  Luckily, it’s about this time of year people start to resolve to stuff and commit to things. So I’m committing. And when my three-year-old post about the winter blues resurfaced, I figured it was time to get a new one out. So here’s a little listical to help break in the brand-spanking-new year of writing.

from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

1. Write. That’s pretty straight-forward, right? If only it were that simple.  It can be hard to shake the nagging fear that comes with facing a blinking cursor. The way to get over that is to convince yourself that you are writing for your eyes only–after all, you are. Let the keys tick away beneath your fingers for fifteen minutes. Don’t let them pause. Don’t backspace, delete, enhance or italicize. Just type. Get used to letting your weird thoughts form words on the page. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to read.

Another one from Harriet the Spy

2. Rewrite. Perhaps you are not in the mood to generate ideas and create a fresh, new manuscript. That’s why you should keep a folder full of half-baked notions, unfinished thoughts, synopses and what-have-you. Let yourself turn to these when you just aren’t in a brand-new-manuscript kind of mood. You may actually be surprised by how much better these ideas have gotten when left to fester in the folder.

From Frog and Toad: Cookies by Arnold Lobel

3. Reward. If you still want to have a tantrum at the thought of sitting down in front of your computer for an hour (or even 15 minutes—see above), get yourself a little piece of chocolate, or a cookie, or a cup of espresso and put it on a high shelf, a la Frog and Toad. Don’t let yourself near it until you have finished your fifteen minutes.

From The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer

4. Steal. If you are unhappy with the results of your new habit, and need to freshen things up, take one of your favorite books and copy it. Copy the words, if you’re trying to work on style (just don’t try to pass it off as yours, obviously). Or you can read it over a few times and figure out with the general lay of the land is. If it’s a novel, try rewriting a scene in a slightly different setting with a different character. If it’s a picture book, try to figure out what kind of structure it has and mimic it with different characters (a school becomes a barnyard, a duck becomes an accountant, etc.).

from The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson

5. Incentivize. Oh, wait. That’s my job. So here’s your incentive:

  • Follow me on Twitter or on Facebook
  • Tweet or post  how many minutes you’ve written for 15 days in a row with the hashtag #tamsonwestonbooks2016
  • I will give you $200 off of a novel edit and $50 off of a picture book edit through the month of January.


  • Congratulations, Dan Santat! Caldecott Winner for Beekle

    I’m breaking the long blog silence to congratulate Dan Santat on his Caldecott win for Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. I hope you’ll always be my unimaginary friend, Dan. Congratulations to all the other winners, too.