Whenever I first took back up writing a few years ago, I struggled with coming up with ideas. I had plenty of them, but I worried whether they would be good enough, or I would spend countless hours writing out the story only to be frustrated that it didn’t seem to get anywhere.
So, to help me do better, I stuck with one format, picture books. I was fortunate to have one of my picture books published and decided that this was the kind of writer that I was; I am a children’s book writer who writes picture books.
Soon every idea I had I tried to cram it into the picture book format. I became more and more frustrated as I tried to fit all the blocks into the round hole. Some worked if I turned and pushed them hard enough, but others just wouldn’t fit.
I still dabbled in other formats, mostly middle grade, but I was a picture book writer.
That was a lie. I was a picture book author, but that was not my only method of writing. This came apparent to me when I came up with another idea for a book I was sure was going to sell. And I crammed the star into that round hole and…it didn’t fit. It was horrible.
So I tried another shape, but it didn’t fit either. The problem was that even though I was looking at different shapes, the hole that they needed to go into didn’t match. This story, as it was, wasn’t a picture book.
I would try to write early readers and middle grade books, but struggled because I was stuck in the mindset of a picture book writer. The language would be too young or too sparse. Visuals would be lacking and it just didn’t appeal to my critique partners.
For some people, they have only one dream or story, and that is okay for them. Their shapes ball has one shape and one block. For others, their’s may also be limited and that is by their choice. And for some, they just haven’t realized there are other shapes to play with and figure out.
It’s great to have a goal, but don’t let it limit your vision. Sometimes you have to spin the ball and find a new hole to put your shape in.
Fear and lack of knowledge are huge barriers to growth. Don’t let them stop you. You can always learn more and there are many people out there that want to support you and help you through those difficult times.
Remember that story I told you about that I wrote as a picture book that wasn’t a picture book? Well, it is out on submission after becoming a graphic novel, a middle grade novel and even an early reader. Funny thing, I found the picture book in it. It wasn’t the original story (concept yes) but after taking the time to allow it to be other things, I finally got it.
And from doing that I found homes for so many other story ideas that I’d put aside because the shapes wouldn’t fit together. It is okay to be an author of more than one format, but only if you give yourself permission to do it well.
And maybe you will even write a little Shakespeare….for kids of course!