I am so lucky to have such amazingly talented friends. And I'm happy to say that when I met Susan Nees, I knew her success was just around the corner - as it soon proved to be. I celebrate her Missy series right along with her! And I'm thrilled to have her here today...
by Susan Nees
When my first book series, Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe was published with Scholastic Press, all four books in the series were written, illustrated and released in about a two year period. It was a grueling schedule and it has led me to a keen interest in streamlining tricks for the creative process.
When you have tight deadlines it helps to have one or two tricks up your sleeve. So, I thought I would share five tricks that have worked for me. Enjoy!
Trick # One: Work Early
That’s right. I do everything humanly possible to get my half sleeping noggin out of bed and into the office as early as I can. I roll out of bed and stumble to my office. No java, no radio, no newspaper, no nothing. I just start. What, you may ask, is the reason for this insanity? Well, I tend to be an overly harsh critic of my own work, and that is not conducive to free flowing ideas or enthusiastic explosions of creativity. I find that when I start creating before my critical brain wakes up, I tend to have more success.
And, bonus, if one does manage to start at 5 a.m., a midday catnap is not only well earned but can provide another opportunity for a fresh burst of ideas.
Trick # Two: Change of Place
I work at home, in a spare room. It’s great. It works well and keeps overhead down, but it does have its drawbacks. And one of those drawbacks is that it can become too solitary which can lead to writer’s block. And that, my friends, is why God gave us coffee shops. Sure, you may spend a few dollars on an occasional cappuccino, but it is still cheaper than rent and that little treat may be all that is needed to help restore your sense of creative equilibrium. So change your surroundings. Order a little jolt of java. Sit surrounded by a gentle chatter of neighbors sipping lattes, see if it tends to have a soothing effect on your mood which in turn gets the cranium cranking.
Trick # Three: Switch-a-Roni
Stuck? Frustrated? In a rut? Try coming at your problems from different angles. This is one of those times when being both the illustrator and the author come in handy. If I get stuck, I simply switch. If I can’t coax out the right word or the right transition from scene to scene, I close up the manuscript and go to the drawing board. Sometimes, sketching out the scene, the characters or the action helps to loosen up the stuck parts. And, you don’t have to be an illustrator. Anyone can draw stick figures.
Trick # 4: Mingle with your Peeps
Long ago, I set up a weekly schedule to visit with my readers. I originally set it up when I was working on my first book in the Missy series. I quickly realized that although adults thought the book was adorable; adults are not my target audience. So I arranged to go visit a classroom. It was so effective and so enjoyable that now, every Monday morning I have a date with a local classroom. I meet with the same group of kids every week. I love my classroom visits. I get to know the kids, they get to know me, it is a time to peek into the minds of my readers and it often provides me with fresh energy and material.
Trick #5: Oxygen
Okay. Last, but not least--don’t underestimate what the body and the brain needs to work. Have you gotten up and walked around? Have you done a few jumping jacks and chased your dog around the house? Has your brain gotten its fair share of oxygen? It’s easy, it’s quick and if nothing else it is good for your dog’s health.
There are more of these, but hopefully this will get you thinking about some tricks for you to have up your sleeve.
Susan has kindly agreed to send a free, signed and dedicated copy of MISSY (your choice which one) to one of my lucky commenters. Enter below to win! (Must live in the US or Canada to be eligible.)