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How to Write a Children's Book (and How Not to!): Part 3 of My Journey

A picture of a woman with dark hair writing

On my road to publishing my first children’s book (Bubble Burps), I made some good decisions and some mistakes. Today’s post includes both! So far in the story, I had the idea for the book during one of many sleepless nights with a newborn back in 2017 (click here to view this blog) and I wrote the story very quickly. Then I turned my attention to the illustrations. Then I got distracted for a couple of years! Then I tried again and made them much better. If you’re interested in seeing the before-and-afters you can view them on this blog post or on my TikTok/Instagram accounts as well.

Here are the links to jump ahead in the article if you want to:

Using Social Media to Help

Anyway, at this point I decided it might be a good idea to get onto social media. Being an old millennial, I was, of course, already on Facebook, not that I used it a lot and… that was about it. So Mark and I set up an Instagram account and then tried to post something on it. If you’ve ever seen Zoolander it was a bit like when they’re trying to get the files from the computer. We ended up posting three of the same picture one after the other on, what we now know, was an Instagram story. And none of the pages had any text – it was just an image floating in the middle of the screen.

Needless to say I needed to learn a bit more about social media. As is true to my personality, I watched a ton of YouTube videos on it and learnt what I should do and started following every bit of advice to the letter, whether I liked it or not. If I’m honest, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t me. I started to get a mediocre following which kind of got stuck around the 400 mark.

An Instagram post of a watercolour painting of a bear with a cochlear implant
One of my early Instagram posts

Using YouTube to Learn

In my bid to ‘learn everything’ I had also started following art tutorials online. They were actually amazing and I really did feel that I learnt a lot about watercolour painting. As I had started out on social media at the time, I guess I must have posted one of the pictures I had done which went down fairly well. Soon after, I was filming the paintings as a time lapse and looking for different ideas to paint all the time.

Did Getting Sidetracked Help Me Learn How to Write a Children's Book?

A rack of watercolour animal greetings cards
Greetings cards from my Etsy shop

During that period of time, a couple of people contacted me and asked to buy the paintings! That sent me off down a distracting path where I started an Etsy shop. This was perhaps my biggest detour from authoring. I don’t know if anyone else is like me and sometimes feel like life is happening to you rather than being in control of it and making decisions yourself? I kind of felt like things just seemed to happen and I went with the flow. It’s difficult really as I don’t actually think there is anything wrong with that and perhaps I was right to explore this as an option to see how I felt? I think that people feel that there are no room for mistakes or for giving up on something that isn’t serving you but again, I don’t actually think there is anything wrong with that. Not only that, I actually feel these things are vital parts of a fulfilling journey.

By now, I still hadn’t finished my book and it was starting to drag on into one of those projects that might never get finished (much like plastering the hallway cupboard downstairs which my dad built for us pre-lockdown) so I decided to have a big push and keep painting every day since, at this point in my story, it actually was lockdown so I had more time. And guess what, I actually got the illustrations finished.

A pile of watercolour illustrations for a children's picture book called Bubble Burps
All my finished illustrations for Bubble Burps

Next Time...

But then I had another idea, one that turned out to be quite a good one involving COVID masks and a short story…

An image from Teesside Live about an article for a short story to help children understand why everyone had to wear masks during COVID
My next idea...

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