I signed up for the Picture Book Marathon, pledging to write 26 picture books in February, because I thought it would be fun to delve into a new format, especially since I have no realistic plan to seek publication for anything that comes out of this. I figured it would be a good exercise to write with both simple visuals and a specific audience in mind.
So this morning, the first day of the Marathon, I set aside 15 minutes to start scribbling something down. The contest suggests coming up only with a very rough 32-page draft each day, which could be only 32 sentences for the simplest picture book.
But for the first time in my life I have writer's block (which is why I am writing this blog post instead). It's not just that my mind has suddenly gone blank—I actually feel nervous and sweaty. I can't make myself commit anything to paper.
I thought writing for young children would be the simplest kind of writing possible. What is overwhelming is not how little I need to write to make one small book, but all the thousands of words and descriptions I must cut out to get there.
My inner critic is like a fussy child, displeased with any of the ideas I hand her, throwing them all in the thrash before they're even unwrapped.