Children's Books / Expat Life / Parenting / Writing

Back in the Picture Book Writing Saddle

The children’s writer in me is back. It seems that the training I did for National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo) paid off in the sense that I could hit the ground running for Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). Flexing my writing muscles during NaBloPoMo got me fit. More importantly, I also made a few personal decisions in my family life which cleared some much needed headspace. I realised that I was having a hard time figuring out how to best support my kids in adjusting to our latest move, and it was worrying me. In the meantime, I was also struggling with whether or not I should start looking for a work-out-of the-house job now that I am living in the most densely populated region of Germany. I was grappling with how to prioritise the many things that needed to be done as a result of moving and to further the projects I had started: editing the German Way Expat Guidebook, picture book writing, developing the German Way website to its potential, managing the renovation of my new house, coordinating new schedules and activities of all three of my kids and our au pair, and normal life stuff.

After talking to some helpful advisors (we all need to have a Board of Advisors – a piece of advice I picked up during my extensive round of information interviews in San Diego), I realised that right now I need to just focus on my family for the time being and stop struggling to figure out how to fit everything else in. Everything else would all have to find its place around what was most important and needed my attention the most. It was the metaphoric putting away all devices when with the kids. I decided to instead of trying to figure out how our au pair could free up my time to work, I would utilise my au pair to get more time with my kids. The work would just have to get done during the mornings when I had nothing else scheduled.

PiBoIdMo 2014

The funny thing is, as soon as I did that, the words started to flow. During my path to calling myself a writer, I agonised that I was writing slowly. Distractions easily infiltrated my cluttered mind. Simple blog posts seemed to take days to write rather than the couple of hours I would assume they should. Instead, I was popping them out in one efficient session. When I signed up to write an article for my local expat club’s magazine, I just sat down and tapped out that 1,000-word diddy in one relatively short sitting that took a couple of hours. I then quickly edited and sent. And the best bit, whenever I come up with an idea for PiBoIdMo, I just go with it. We are 2/3 done with this challenge, and from my impression, I’d say 15 out of the 20 ideas I’ve produced were inspired ideas that just came to me rather than being forced or agonised over. I’ve even been able to develop some of the ideas, writing a few subsequent lines, sometimes a full page, and even once a whole manuscript.

Often times while chitchatting with other mothers of three or four kids, we’ve agreed that things just naturally prioritise themselves. All of those other projects are still there and lurking and get the attention they need when demanded, but I think now that I’ve clarified what is most important, I’ve finally been able to attain the efficiency and flow I’ve always wanted to. Not having another house move looming on the horizon helps too.


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