Finding Inspiration

By Gloria Reichert

Lawn mowers buzz the emerging grass. Leaves fill the bare branches of trees. Flowers pop up to add fragrance and color to the world. Birds fill the air with song. All around, we can see signs of spring reflecting the growth this season brings.

As writers and illustrators, we need to be growing too, not only in spring but throughout the year. We can do this by searching out different resources that expose us to new ideas, stretch our thinking, and inspire us to think creatively. Listed below are some resources that can inspire us to grow.


Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition by Ann Whitford Paul. This updated book guides readers every step of the way from the early stages of creating a story to publication. The end of every chapter includes exercises to help readers apply the information presented to their own manuscripts. 

Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life and Let Go of Your Fears by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert is best known for her novel Eat, Pray, Love, but in this nonfiction book, she discusses her ideas about how to deal with that fear that all creatives face, how to act on the ideas a writer notices, and how to have less stress as you go forth to create. Our fears will always be there, so we might as well acknowledge them and get comfortable with them but let our curiosity and creativity reign. She presents a new approach to the creative process.

TED Talk Mac Barnett

In this whimsical talk about “Why a Good Book is a Secret Door,” Barnett focuses on the “art of fiction,” that special place between truth and lies. In addition to sharing information about 826 Valencia, a tutoring center for writing, he discusses art as a doorway to wonder and shares what kids say to a fictional whale. Barnett is a humorous, inspiring speaker who believes kids deserve the best stories we can give to them.


12x12 - This year long writing challenge focuses on helping members write 12 picture book manuscripts – one each month of the year. Also included are opportunities for webinars by industry leaders, critiques, and submitting to agents or editors – depending on the level of membership.

Nonfiction Fest – Held in February for the last two years, daily blogs written by folks involved with nonfiction highlight different aspects of writing nonfiction and share books which exemplify the topics discussed.

Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) Each March, daily blogs written by authors, illustrators, agents, or editors discuss topics of interest to picture books creators and present mentor texts as examples of the topic being discussed. Participants analyze the mentor texts to see what makes them successful. 

These suggestions represent only a few of the many resources available to help writers and illustrators. As you peruse these, may you be led to many other resources which inspire you and help you to grow and to hone your craft.