I've been back from the SCBWI Miami conference for about 3 weeks, and the inspiration is still running rampant! What a great conference. I am fond of the smaller scale gatherings...I feel I can actually get to know people because I bump into them more than once, compared to being lost in a sea of 1000+ gathering.
I just wanted to share some of the highlights with you, because these are my big takeaways that I think might inspire you as well!
1. "Acting" was a recurring theme that I picked up on this year. We had a guest speaker demonstrate the art of improv and how it translates into writing, illustrating, animating, and public speaking. Even renowned Bruce Coville urged us all to take acting lessons. The goal in communicating improv-style is to be clear, passionate, and have confident engaging body language. Talk slowly, dare to bore!! Make them think that you are the answer to all their life's problems, put them at ease, and then you can begin entertaining.
2. Ever so inspiring was Bruce Coville. The man knows how to write! I bought one of his Unicorn Series books, where the first sentence begins with, "Grandmother, is that man following us?" I was immediately hooked and read the first 3 chapters in 5 minutes. Above are a few of the many notes I took during his keynote speech. Biggest take-aways from all of this? "Never throw anything away" and "scare yourself". Yes, exactly what I needed to hear....
I have sketchbooks full of wacky ideas that have been put aside, but they all have potential for becoming children's books. It's a bit scary for me to dig them out, revisit each idea and invest the time into making them work. But that, my friends, is exactly what I am doing now, thanks to Bruce's kick in the pants. :)
3. Dan Yaccarino also proved to be inspirational, simply because of his simplicity! "KEEP IT SIMPLE" was the big takeaway. His advice: try writing only 1 or 2 sentences per picture book image. Give your character a need and a conflict Show, don't tell. Say YES to projects that scare you (again, overlapping theme here...) Get whatever is in your head onto paper and then simplify it. It doesn't have to be great or perfect, just bring it into existence. Doodle a crapload of ideas.
Thanks, Dan :)
It's come to my attention that I need to be writing. Throughout college I got pretty good at writing thesis papers, but now it's time to learn the art of storytelling. And just like with drawing, you learn by doing.
The cool thing about being here in Florida is that I am surrounded by an amazing support group!! These people are passionate, man!! Not to mention all my wonderful artist friends back home who are hardcore. It's encouraging to know that we are never alone on our artistic journey!!
I'm planning on attending the SCBWI L.A. conference in August. Lots of goals have been set in motion, and in 6 months time I will be calling myself a writer/illustrator.