Trying to get the *Picture Book* in Focus

PiBoIdMo bannerI have stayed flexible in my writing. Even up to now thinking I could do NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, with my memoir. But as time passes and I see how much there is to marketing I realize I need to narrow my niche with this blog and with my time. I wonder if this will become mainly a marketing blog. A blog that chronicles where I go and what I do in marketing. I wonder if I will continue to keep my readers as I do this. Most of you aren’t into marketing. However the responses I got when I asked about your ideas on marketing were magnificent. You were both generous and imaginative.

But I wonder, can I entertain and educate you as I continue on my path with my book, “Annie’s Special Day?” Will you stay interested in my writing about the completion and the marketing of it?

And also I’ve been needing to set priorities with my time. There is a picture book thing called November is Picture Book Idea Month. This is the NaNoWriMo equivalent for children’s authors. I ask myself do I want to work on my memoir or do I want to focus on picture books.

As I get this one picture book published and start work on another I realize I just don’t have the time to spend on my memoir. I can’t do PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo, both. There just aren’t hours in the day. I had already toned down my own NaNoWriMo goals by telling myself I would only type up one or two stories from my journal each day. Not have totally original material. I haven’t even read the books I had promised myself in preparation. I was going to outline my memoir and also read Larry Brooks’ book, “Story Engineering.” And I haven’t done that.

As I spend my days looking at illustrations and talking to my illustrator, Claudia Wolf, I realize I don’t want to learn all this stuff for only one book. I don’t want to learn all about templates and illustrations for nothing. I want it to pay out and to do that I need to focus.

I’ve got a picture book critique group now. Don’t I want to work on my new PB so I can submit it to the group? Do I only want to give to my group and not take anything away? Did I join for nothing? And then I also realize I feel really happy when I’m working on picture books. I love writing and reading them.

I have a friend, Bobbi Carducci, who is the schizophrenic writer at http://www.Schizophrenicwriter.wordpress.com/. She is also the leader of my writing group, Round Hill Writers’ Group. She says that she is all over the place and that’s why she calls herself the schizophrenic writer. I’ve thought all this time I could be like that, too. Now I realize I can’t. I have to focus. I have to choose between memoir and picture book. I can’t write and spend time in both genres right now.

My blog material has dealt with my progress in writing up to now. How I’ve spent my time is what I’ve blogged about. That is one reason I haven’t found a niche for articles in my posts. From the start I heard this was bad but I thought I could write about anything and spend time on all of it. But I go to bed frustrated and wake up anxious. I need to set goals. And not just marketing goals. As the time comes to market I will have less time to write so I need to think carefully. What do I want to spend my free time on? What if I choose not to spend time on memoir and only spend time on PBs? That will be much more manageable.

And for my blog I’ll finally have a niche, a picture book and marketing niche. I’ll have two things to write about. I’ll write about my journey as I market my picture book and write another. It’ll still be life as I construct it now. It’ll still be life under construction.  And I know it’s against the rules but I’d like to let you in on other happenings in my life. I’d like to give you a post about my trip on a steam engine run train for instance. I wonder if you’d like that.

Have you solved a dilemma like this? Finding and sticking to a subject in your blogging and finding time for what you write about? Some of you write in several genres, what have you done to manage your time?

You may also like the following:  https://clarbojahn.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/write-in-one-genre-or-two/

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About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
This entry was posted in blogging, Clara Bowman-Jahn, memoir, personal growth, social networking, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Trying to get the *Picture Book* in Focus

  1. suzicate says:

    I wish I had some sage advice for you, but considering I’m all over the place myself I’m no hlep in prioritizing the writing life. I have managed so far to keep my blog going five days a week but have let my poetry blog lag. I picked up a novel I started years ago and worked on it for a couple of weeks and put it back down, was going to pick up the nonfiction book I started and instead started working on some memoir…all over the place, yeah that’s me!

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    • clarbojahn says:

      OK, I’m not unique then. I have given myself permission to only work on PB’s right now. And that’s freeing.

      Do you feel anxious about not doing anything justice?

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  2. I’m afraid I’m in the same boat as you and suzicate above. There is just so much to do. I think I need to make myself a strict schedule and set the kitchen timer so I stick to it: one hour for blogging, one hour to work on picture book idea #1, one hour for marketing tasks, one hour for picture book #2, etc… or something… Let me know if you figure out how to fit 30 hours of work into a 24 hour day where you also have to take care of your home and family, and maybe another job as well 🙂 They say women are good multi-taskers, but I don’t find that to be true of myself!

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    • clarbojahn says:

      I used to be much better at multitasking than now. I think as we get older that characteristic goes away. Also the ability to work with interruptions vanishes, unfortunately.

      Yes, give me an extra hour in the day every day? I’m really enjoying this daylight savings time fall back this year. 🙂

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  3. I haven’t published yet, but I feel some of the anxiety you mention. I’m writing picture books, but was nudged to start a blog to begin establishing my platform. For me, I need to master my craft in PB. I’ve limited my blog entries to twice a week. It has been fun interacting with the contests and I’ve found them valuable to me in many ways. I’ve enjoyed meeting other people. But, I have set goals and limitations for myself, otherwise I won’t be doing what I want to do most — write picture books. My blog is very focused towards my writing interests. I can’t imagine adding the marketing aspect on top of everything else, especially since you are so new to it. But, that is the most important goal for you right now. You’ve made many connections with all of us, and I know many/most of us will be eager to purchase, read and review your book. — Patricia

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you, Patricia. Well taken. I, too, have enjoyed the authors platform and the many new friends I made. You are one of them I think. So glad to *know* you! 🙂

      My posts are twice a week also and I may decrease it down to one if I get too busy with marketing. The blogging gurus say one must post at least twice a week to keep readers so I hate to compromise that. Others at the SCBWI conference said blogging was dead. I’m not sure what she meant by that. It was in reference to almost everyone having a blog. That there were so many bloggers now.

      I, too was nudged into blogging to build a platform. But it has taken until now to develop a niche and I will deviate from that to share tidbits from my life.

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  4. Widdershins says:

    … rules – schmules!

    … here’s a thought … lets assume you choose a Monday to Friday blogging schedule. This is just as an example … you might decide to blog every other day, or whatever!

    On Monday you do a post about your life, Tuesday, something about marketing, Wednesday is for stuff about your childrens book, Thursday is for the memoir, and Friday is for anything you damn-well please! And the weekend is yours to do as you will. (or to freak out over the coming weeks worth of blog posts!)

    WordPress will let you add a ‘categories’ widget to your sidebar and when you post on a particular topic, you just click on which category it belongs to, and away you go.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Widder, I’m trying to narrow it down. Not build to a feverish pitch. 🙂

      I’ve seen others with this kind of blogging life. I don’t want it. I am going to blog about marketing when I have something to say and also about picture books when I have something to say. I’m not the kind of person who can write about subjects on certain days. Not yet anyway. I suppose this would be ideal but I’m not there yet.

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  5. jannatwrites says:

    I like Widdershins’ idea (probably because that’s kind of what I do.) I’m all over the place, too and like variety, so I can’t help with narrowing down your focus…sorry!

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, I like what you do. And readers know what to expect from you. I’m not there yet. I am not able to decide what days I’ll post about a certain subject or not. Maybe it will come but I don’t see myself doing that any time soon. It takes knowing your writing self real well and how life is served up. My blogging ideas don’t come in order. And I don’t have a big list of unpublished posts to draw from.

      I appreciate your comment and honesty. 🙂

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  6. I think you’ll find what works best for you. That’s the beauty of this writing business. I think we can sort through some of our questions with a like-minded community. I took several months off of the memoir work to focus on picture books. Result: I’ve written a few personal essays on the memoir topic that weren’t coming to the surface until I redirected my focus. I do want to have a complete memoir manuscript in 2012…Goals. Goals. Good luck with yours.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      OH! and good luck with yours.

      So did the personal essays come after returning to them after taking off for the PBs? Now I see a class in personal essays I want to take after deciding to work only on PBs and marketing. Will they come again I wonder? And how often can I delay it. I have such a hard time staying focused. There are so many new shiny things out there.

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  7. Clar, I think posting on a blog does help us stay focused. I also think the content of the blog can change and evolve as we go through our journey. It is immensely helpful to me as one of your followers, to read about your journey and all you are learning. Your links, ideas,struggles and experiences have a universal theme and all help me in my own journey. So thank you and keep doing what you’re doing. It’s working! 🙂

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  8. mtnwriter77 says:

    Hi Clar – your journey echoes what I’ve been going through, but yours has been recognizing the limitations of how many kinds of writing you can realistically focus on within your time constraints. I’ve been focused on women’s fiction, but was having trouble making choices about all of the non-writing things I like to do or have to do that cut into writing time. I’m still working on the balance while keeping writing as a priority. It sounds like your journey is progressing, and I’m learning from your process!

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  9. clarbojahn says:

    I’m glad I can be of help, Mtn. I, too have many nonwriter activities that keep me away from the computer. I take Pilates classes twice a week and walk two or three miles a day for my exercise as one thing that keeps me from writing. Then there are the reading activities of books and clubs. And I haven’t even started on housework and stuff. We just aren’t equipped to be at the computer twelve or even eight hours a day. Even though I’m retired from my wage earning job, It is difficult to structure my writing time unless I do it the first thing in the morning and spend at least two hours on it.

    I appreciate your problem and have it myself. 🙂

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  10. Good post. I have felt that way many times. Going forward can b messy. Whatever u do, ess u friend. Standing by.

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