Beat The Post-Christmas Blues By Writing!

It’s a funny time of year, post-Christmas and New Year, and now back in another lockdown. How can we try and make it a positive time?

book illustrator

Whether or not you are working in this strange time, it’s always odd to see the back of Christmas and the New Year, whether or not you celebrate either. Now, we know a lot of people have had more time on their hands this year, and some have managed to get loads done in this time, some of us have struggled to pick up a pen and paper, or open the laptop. Either one is fine, we have all dealt with this year in our own ways and the important thing is that we make peace with what we have achieved this year. It’s important we don’t beat up on ourselves because our novel hasn’t finally been written, or that our fabulous children’s book idea still hasn’t been illustrated. Sometimes it has felt like our biggest achievement has been putting dinner on the table before 7pm!

However, if you have some free time in this lockdown, perhaps now is the time to think about doing something a little productive. It can be hard to get motivated again, especially if plenty of rich food and tasty chocolates have been consumed! The Christmas Day walk seems a long time ago, and the weather is now mostly awful over the world, it seems! Particularly here in England. So, whilst we continue to urge a little self-care and peace over this time, maybe your brain could do with a little firing up.

make a book

You may have seen that recently we put together a blog about how to motivate yourself, and the tips we shared about getting yourself moving. You can read the blog here, with tips like writing to music, eating the right things to enhance concentration and how getting out for a blustery walk can help hone in on your talent! We have also put together a blog about writing to help your mental health, and explored a little around the benefits to you from writing. Feel free to read this blog here! This year we have also put together a series of blogs that deal with tips for writing, covering the different angles that will benefit your work. Struggle with creating character? We have a blog that will help you with that! Read it here for tips on making your character more believable and interesting, how to write animal characters and writing a character for a children’s story, plus more!

Once you have your character, how do you bring them to life? We have a blog for that too, which you can read here! Find out if you are writing an illustrated story or a picture book, work out what it means to have a book style, decide on your illustration style, look at what your characters should look like and be inspired by what’s around you!

Once you have your book, you’ll want to have it illustrated (if it’s the style that requires illustrations). We put together a blog that gives you all the info you’ll need in terms of working with an illustrator, and luckily we had one right here that we could use to ask all sorts of questions on your behalf! Sarah talks about how to approach her, what’s expected from you as an author, how much input she requires from an author, how sketches are developed, and how much say you have in the book (lots). Plus loads more. It’s a really useful tool for getting started with illustrating your book and you can read it here.

childrens book illustrator

In the same thread, we also asked Sarah a few questions about her bugbears and the things that can get under her skin when working on children’s books. She normally loves her job, but there are some moments when even she has to take a deep breath. In order to keep Sarah from stress-eating Haribo (as opposed to just eating them for fun!) have a read of the blog and make sure you have covered all angles before asking any questions of her.

Ah, plot. The story-writer’s favourite and most-feared subject! Plot is hard, no matter what size or shape of book you are writing. One of the hardest things is that the technique and style of coming up with, and writing, plot can change for everyone. Some people love mapping it all out, some just wing it, some love Scrivenor. Our blog about plot, which you can read here, covers as many bases as we can think of. From using technology and writing aids, to just writing until the pen stops, we try to take on every angle of plot to give you the best chance to work out your style and your way of doing it. There is no right or wrong way, but there is your way!

pet portraits

Of course, once it’s written you will need to check your story and edit it. Argh, the worst bit! You just want to finish it, put the pen down and pop the kettle on. Well, you can do that and whilst you wait for it to boil have a read of our proofreading blog. Written by an actual proofreader and editor (hello!) this blog covers many aspects of proofreading. From editing your own work to proofreading, and what the difference is! As well as whether it’s worth paying a proofreader to check your work, with a little bit about self-publishing, this blog should cover a lot of the more simple aspects of starting out with your own editing.

So, lots to be getting on with! Don’t pressure yourself, don’t rush, and don’t feel you need to get it right first time. Write something, put it to one side and then come back after a week or so. If you’ve written something in the meantime that may have changed your original work, change that as well! It’s your work, and your own story. Make it yours. And good luck! (Also try not to start sentences with “and” or make a sentence into parenthesis 😉 )

A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could.” – Discovery Leisure

  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath

  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis

  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards