by Tammi Sauer
People go to the gym for various reasons. Some want to stay fit. Some want to lose weight. Some want to realize the dream of getting a six-pack.
But that pack of six does not just happen. It requires a lot. I can think of at least six things that must enter the mix:
- a personal trainer,
- a training partner, e
- a bit of rest and recovery.
This is my six-pack 2018:
Wordy Birdy (Doubleday Books for Young Readers)
"The amusing text of Sauer and Mottram's detailed and hilarious illustrations blend seamlessly into a coherent whole." – School Library Journal
But the bear is back (Sterling)
"There's a lot of humor in the details of colorful, lined art, but this is largely a touching story, one that could add a good variety of flavor at the time of storytelling." – Booklist
Go fishing! (HarperCollins)
"A fun summer puzzle, a line and a diver." – Kirkus
Knock Knock (Scholastic Press)
"Saturated colors, animated characters and stupid jokes will guarantee repeated readers, an interesting reading aloud on hibernation and friendship." – School Library Journal
Quiet Wyatt (Clarion)
"A story of amusing friendship with a hint of irony." -Kirkus
Make a friend (HarperCollins)
"A safe recipe for making a friend … real or snow." -Kirkus
While I was not going to publish six books in a year (which would be bananas), those same six things: fuel, personal trainer, consistency, stretching, training partner and a bit of rest and recovery – played a big role in making this six-pack happen.
Your body needs water and adequate foods to reach its potential. To write an illustrated book, you must also have the fuel. You must nurture your muse and writing skills. But how? Read and analyze (!!!) other illustrated books! Go to the bookstore or library, get a pile of books (mostly published in recent years) and study. Break them up and find out what makes them work. And once you're done? Well, take another pile.
Getting a guide from an expert in the field can be useful for achieving this fitness goal. As a writer, you can get valuable information from others. Attend the conferences. I attend a course. Watch a webinar. Find a mentor. Study resources on how to write illustrated books: my favorite is Linda Ashman, The Guide to Nuts and Bolt to write illustrated books.
The acquisition of that set of tonic muscles requires regular effort. When for the first time I decided to try writing picture books, I would write for a couple of months, take a break for a few weeks, write for a few days, take a break for a year and a half … This did not help me to improve as a writer. It was only when I made writing a priority that I gained considerable profits. You need to introduce yourself to the page (even when you do not feel like it – perhaps especially when you do not feel like it) and be willing to get the job done.
Some pre-workout stretching can help you avoid muscle tension and cramps. Also spread as a writer. Instead of writing the same kind of story over and over again, try out new approaches. Try different points of view. Try different structures. Try to tell a story entirely in dialogue or a story that is told almost entirely through art or what it is (breathless!) A remnant.
A training partner reaches you in the gym and knows firsthand what you are going through because he or she is going through it. This person can motivate you to keep and improve. As a writer, critical partners and critical groups, they do not just cheer you up while you do the work, but more importantly, they push you to improve your craft.
Rest and recovery:
You can not go to the gym every minute: your body needs time to rest and recover. Even writers need these times. Take a walk. Meet a friend for lunch. Visit the beach or museum or your great-aunt Mildred. Take some time to experience life and fill the well.
This package of six writing tips has been useful to me over the years. In the words of Hans and Franz, I hope they'll blow you up.
Tammi wants to share her six-pack with you.
For a chance to win one of these books, leave a comment on this post. (One comment per person, please.)
SIX WINNERS will be randomly selected within two weeks.
Tammi Sauer is a full-time author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. He has published 25 illustrated books with leading publishers including HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Scholastic Press, Simon & Schuster and Sterling. In addition to winning prizes, Tammi's books have continued to do great things. Nugget & Fang has been transformed into a musical and is currently on the national tour, Wordy Birdy has been nominated as an Indie children's choice for Spring 2018 Next, an Amazon Best book of the month, and a book of the month Barnes & Noble Best, and Your Alien, NPR's best book of the year, has recently been published in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and French, which makes it feel extravagant. Visit it on tammisauer.com.