Monday, 10 September 2018

Five Tips for the Creative Process • by Natascha Biebow

This summer, I had the good fortune to attend the SCBWI International Conference in LA, where for three days, I was one of 1180 attendees amongst the star-studded faculty.

Here are five inspirational thoughts I took away with me :

1.     Tell Your Inner Demons to SHUT UP! – this was a recurring theme amongst many of the speakers, who reminded us to stay true to our writing and storytelling and to ignore the nay-sayers, the doubting voices. “Kill the committee—those voices in your head that say can't, won't, and other things that get in the way” Andrea Pinkney urged. They DO NOT SERVE YOU.

Ah, now that they are GONE, I can begin the real work . . .

2.     SIMMER: it is important to let your stories simmer, to allow a time, to open your senses, to be still and receptive to QUIET so you can hear the story and keep moving forwards creatively. Andrea Pinkney meditates every morning before she starts work.

Author/Illustrator Eliza Wheeler shared how w
hen it comes to getting the best ideas, the farther and more freely your thoughts can roam, the better. Your mood can really affect how you create. Listen to your emotional state, so if you feel:

Anxiety: you're judging yourself and your work
Boredom: you haven't spent enough time immersing yourself in your ideas
Stress: you're trying to consider too much at once
Fried: you've pushed it too far. Take a break and return to things afresh

3.    ‘DIVE AFRAID’: it’s okay to not know what the ending is, where you are going, what shape your story will take on. When you are writing or crafting a story, the reader must also dive afraid – the author is making a covenant and inviting them on a journey. Make that human connection with your reader. TRUST.

4.     HOOK, PULL, HOLD: Andrea Pinkney shared her creative process – really useful to keep pinned to your noticeboard as a reminder when you're working: first, hook in readers quickly with VOICE and a clear premise (“Reader, we’re going on a journey – let me tell you where we’re going and why you should come along”). Add texture and flavour, that ‘twinkle’ that is unique to you. Then pull readers along with emotion and a gripping turnkey that will hold their attention until the curtain comes down.

5.     A STORY IS LIKE A RIPPLE IN THE WORLD: You never know how a scene in your book might influence and connect with a reader. Keynote Bruce Coville said: “The right story at the right moment is like an arrow to the heart; it can catch and hold a hurt and bring it to the surface.” The story that you tell now might send a ripple through the world, a scene from a book could influence the adult that child might become.


      Mike Curato said: “Don't think of publishing as the be all end all of telling your story. That stunted me as a storyteller. You need to get it out. Even if you tell your story to just one person, that's important, make it count. Make this life count.”

Coville continued: “Every creative action is a pebble making ripples that will spread out to places you can’t even imagine, and from there, those ripples will set other waves in motion, and on and on.”

       So, to sum it up:

Children are worth our best efforts. 

      That’s why we do what we do – as crazy as it is most days.

To read more inspirational posts, see the SCBWI Conference blog here

Natascha Biebow, MBE, Author, Editor and Mentor
Natascha is the author of The Crayon Man (March 2019), Elephants Never Forget and Is This My Nose?, editor of numerous award-winning children’s books, and Co-Regional Advisor (Co-Chair) of SCBWI British Isles. She runs Blue Elephant Storyshaping, an editing, coaching and mentoring service aimed at empowering writers and illustrators to fine-tune their work pre-submission. Check out her Cook Up a Picture Book courses!


Julie Rowan-Zoch said...

Thanks for sharing your takeaways!

Lynne Garner said...

Great advice and nice to see that I'm not the only author that doesn't always know where a story is going to take me until I get there.

ptnozell said...

So happy for you that you were able to attend the SCBWI summer conference and so happy for us that you shared your take-aways. Thank you!

Natascha Biebow said...

Thank you!