Picture Book Prompt 13

“Children find everything in nothing.
Men find nothing in everything.”
—Giacomo Leopardi, Italian philosopher

Think of a time when you (or a child you know) found ‘everything in nothing’—whatever you understand that to mean—and write about that experience.


What does it mean to find ‘everything in nothing’? Explore that idea in a twelve-minute free- write session.

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Picture Book Prompt 12

“When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.” —C. S. Lewis

Don’t throw away writing projects that you put aside, that are not working, that you’re struggling with.
Instead, start a folder—either physical or on your computer–titled.

The Drawer
This is where you are going to keep all your manuscripts in process.
The ones that feel like they never get further than a mind dump, the ones that feel like you just can’t make progress, where you’re stuck, where your craft just doesn’t seem to be up to your vision.

Revisit the folder every few months. See if there’s something, a project that calls to you. Spend some time noodling around with it! With the benefit of distance you might see the potential, recognize where you were headed, see what it is that you were trying to say. . . .

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Picture Book Prompt 11

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.”
—Jack Kerouac

Children are full of passion and wanting.
And its arguable that part of the work of childhood is learning how to manage them, how to control them.
Write about a passion that a child might have. Write about what it might look like, what it might feel like, how it might put them in conflict with their environment. Write about how they might come to understand and have some agency over it.

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Picture Book Prompt 10

“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write.”—William Faulkner

Which picture book are you loving right now?

Make some time to hang out with it, time to really appreciate it, to give it your full attention.

Read it through once the way you usually would.

Read it out loud so you get a sense of the rhythms of the language.

Read it out loud. One sentence at a time. Pause between sentences. Really take each one in.

Pay attention to the words the author chose. Pay attention to the order in which the words were placed.

Highly Recommended: If you like, you can write notes or write a paragraph or two about what you noticed as you read.

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Picture Book Prompt 9

“Waiting is not easy!”
—Mo Willems

Children frequently have to wait.
And waiting is hard.
Write about a child who has to wait
in a line where the thing they’re waiting for is desirable:
a movie
entrance to a museum
an ice cream cone


for something that’s less pleasant:
in a bank
at the post office
in a supermarket checkout line

How might the experiences differ? Both in terms of the character’s internal sense and external sense?

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