I joined the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge way back in December of 2011. It started last January, and the goal is to write one rough draft of a new picture book every month. So far, I have not only managed to do so for the first half of this challenge, but I have written more than one a month because, in the month of February, I joined the Picture Book Marathon and wrote 26 picture book drafts.
This has been a major learning experience for me. I have had the ideas running around my head for these picture books for many years, and this year, at the start of this challenge, is the first time I actually tried to write them down. I joined a critique group formed through the 12 x 12 in 2012 Facebook group, and through them have learned that, pretty much, I am nowhere near done learning about this process of writing picture books.
Julie Hedlund organized this challenge, and she has been amazing. Also amazing is that, with this being the first year this challenge has run, Julie had over 400 people sign up for it! (For the month-long Chapter Book Challenge I organized, there were only 23 of us signed up, but that may grow by next year's challenge.) I honestly don't know how she finds the time to keep everything running smoothly with so many participants and with all of the author guest blog posts, prizes and even aspiring author guest blog posts that she has been posting, as well as keeping up with the Facebook group.
I must admit that, as helpful as all of this has been, I continue to be a bit envious of those picture book authors/aspiring authors who are also illustrators. I would love to be able to illustrate my own picture books and ensure that the pictures portrayed my ideas exactly as I intend them to be portrayed, but alas, my skills do not run in that direction. (You can see examples of my pitiful attempts to teach myself to draw here and here.)
I know that several of the members of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge have already been published or have become published during the course of this challenge, and, as we are only half-way through the challenge, I am looking forward to seeing many more of my talented colleagues join the ranks of the published before this challenge completes.
*raises champagne glass* Here's to halfway there already and to another 6 months and 6 more picture books written! Woohoo!!!!