I've had the immense pleasure of hearing Linda Sue Park speak at a couple of SCBWI conferences. Not only that, but I've also had the opportunity to sit and talk with her, and let me tell you, the words that come out of her mouth are so great, so helpful, so smart that you won't want to dare miss them when she's gives her keynote presentation at the upcoming SCBWI Winter Conference.
As I mentioned in the introduction, you are on the SCBWI Board of Advisors. How and when did your involvement begin with SCBWI, and what has it meant to you?
I attended my first-ever SCBWI conference in the fall 2001; it was organized by Ellen Yeomans, who was then RA for upstate New York. I had already published three novels at that point, and Ellen invited me to be on a panel, I think. I was fortunate because we have a well-established children's writers' group here in Rochester--the Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators--so I had been active with them for a couple of years before that, and Ellen used to visit us once in a while.
I think you (and Katherine) just gifted me with another favorite tip! But I have to ask, what gets you through on those days when finding the words seems impossible, and how do you keep yourself from being distracted by those tasks that easily pull us away (email, blogs, etc)?
I give myself a mandate to write two pages, AND permission to write two BAD pages. Most days, I start my work time by throwing away a lot of what I wrote the day before. If I can salvage half a page, or a paragraph, or even a single line of dialogue...that's progress. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, it's a vital part of the process to find out what *doesn't* work!
In general, though, the two pages thing is a habit for me. By that I mean, I don't ever say to myself, "Oh--I must make sure to brush my teeth today." I don't have to say it, because it's a habit, an automatic part of my day. It took me many months of trying and failing, but eventually the two pages became a habit. When I'm in the groove working on a novel, *not* writing my two pages feels all wrong to me...just like when I don't brush my teeth!