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 😉 )