FAQ: What advice do you have for aspiring writers and illustrators?

Many people think they could write or illustrate a children’s book.

Few could.

Some try, and

a small number are actually published.

Partly this is due to skill level. It takes many years to get your work up to the professional standard suitable for publication. Most people do not persevere and see it through.

In my opinion, the most inspiring advice for aspiring writers and illustrators comes from Ira Glass, the US radio broadcaster. Here’s a little snippet:

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good … a lot of people never get past this phase.

Does that sound like you? It perfectly sums up the early part of my creative journey, when I was struggling to get my work up to standard and to get my first book contract.

Ira goes on to explain how to close that gap between your skill and your ambitions. The full quote is insightful, simple and brilliant. Rather than just copy and paste the whole quote verbatim, I found a short film-version put together by filmmaker Daniel Sax (see below). It’s brilliant too.

If you’re struggling with staying motivated on your own creative journey, please please please watch this video. Then turn off the internet and go make your art!

FAQ: How did you get into books?

The Last Viking book launch, June 24th, 2011. (L-R) Norman, James, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, and Director of the Children's Literature Centre Lesley Reece
The Last Viking book launch, June 24th, 2011. (L-R) Norman, James, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, and Director of the Children’s Literature Centre Lesley Reece

To the pre-published, the children’s book industry can seem like a secret club. How do you get to be one of those people on the inside, who have their stories and illustrations published professionally? It’s something I get asked a lot.

Continue reading “FAQ: How did you get into books?”