Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Keeping your eye on the ball, by Jane Clarke

Last month I started golfing. I'm a complete beginner, so I've been looking for tips, and many are applicable to writing picture books. So here's the strap line and three top tips (in green text) courtesy of

Anyone can start the game at any age… all you need to get started is some good advice.
 Yup. I started picture book writing at the age of 40 and I'm starting golf at 59.  If you're getting started in the picture book game, join a group like The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators to get that good advice.  For golf, I'm currently being coached by my partner. Hmmm. We'll see how that works out…

Nice and Easy

You will find that it goes much better when you take it nice and easy...

That is much, much harder than it sounds. A good picture book text has to read nice and easy, too, so don't force the text, let it come naturally. With golf, I'm still at the stage where I tense up and get sweaty.

Square to the Target

As long as you are pointing your shoulders and feet squarely at the target, you should be able to get where you want it to go.

Right. I attempt to start off square to the target, but things tend to slip and I miss. Picture book texts can get lost, stuck in a bunker, or ricochet out of bounds, too. 

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

You will find that if you practice this enough, your hand-eye coordination will improve dramatically and you will consistently make solid contact.

Well, here's hoping! But yes, in golf and picture book writing, persistence, practice  and application is all.   In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.  That was certainly true of me and writing.

 So far, I've notched up about 50 hours of golf so I've got a way to go. But I'm having fun so I'll stick with it.

And that applies to picture book writing, too.

Jane Clarke 
Jane's at proof stage with 4 toddler board books, illustrated by Georgie Birkett, to be published next year by Random House, and having lots of fun writing a series for another publisher who won't allow her to tell anyone about it yet.


  1. Brilliant blog, Jane! And so true. Hope you get a hole in one with your board books.

  2. Ha ha, Jane, I bet you're the first to discuss an analogy between golf and picture book writing. I like it! In particular I think it emphasises that writing picture books is a skill that needs to be practised. We can all hit a ball, but there's much more to golf. Practise, practise, and even the most experienced sometimes miss hit the ball... So when are you writing a picture book about a golfing bear? Or what about a golfing flamingo?!

    1. I'm just off to Florida, Paeony, so I think I'll have to put a gator in there somewhere

  3. I always hear that statistic bandied around and I've used it myself but I didn't know where it came from. Is Outliers worth a read? (it would be a good for my current procrastination drive...). Happy golfing!