Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Inspired writing

I love to enter contests. Ever since I won a transistor radio in a McDonald's coloring contest when I was in first grade, I've been hooked. My prizes have ranged from a trip to Paris in a national scavenger hunt to $40,000 for describing in twenty-five words why I like Healthy Choice foods. The picture above is when I won a 7-minute grocery shopping spree in junior high for creating a winning contest jingle for Shasta soda pop.

Not surprisingly, several of my books (including the first book I ever had published) began as contest entries. But why do I find contests so intriguing? Why do they fuel my inspiration so strongly? Here are a few reasons:

* Contests have a set deadline. This is great motivation for someone like me who will work on an idea forever, waiting to get it perfected.

* Contests have rules, which help give me focus.

* Contests have rules, which I love to stretch (the rules say I can use only twenty-five words, but they don't say I can't also include pictures with my entry).

* Contests are competitive. I like the challenge of trying to come up with an idea or approach that will stand out from the thousands of other entries.

* Contests are an excellent venue for taking creative risks. If I try something totally off-the-wall and I don't win, I haven't lost anything.

* Contests offer great prizes ($40,ooo is nothing to sneeze at, but I've also gotten excited over winning a t-shirt or a deck of playing cards).

For me, writing books is a lot like entering a contest. I love the challenge of coming up with an idea that will be different than anything my editor has seen before. I love stretching the boundaries of what can be done in a picture book format. And of course I love the possibility of winning the "grand prize" of a publishing contract.

The joy I feel when working on an exciting picture book idea is the same joy I've felt when working on a strong contest entry.

Now all I need is for my editor to give me a specific deadline and my inspiration will kick into high gear.


Edie Hemingway said...

I had no idea you were such a contest-winner! I've never been one for entering contests, but now you have me ready to try. And I like your comparison to writing.

Lauren said...

David, I love that you are loading frozen pizza into the cart on your shopping spree-- that would be my son, Cooper- lots of pizza! Contests and me do not gel. I even enter my daughter's name on all of the entries because since she was very little, she always wins!

Anyhow-- I think you have to write a novel with a main character loving contests. You are a winner! And your books make all of us winners. Your entry makes me smile.

betsy woods said...

You have inspired me to think toward that contract in terms of a contest. Thanks!

Marcel said...

Great picture! It's the cutest kid ever born!

Christy said...

Can't stop thinking about you and your contests. This is so enlightening and very impressive! The photo is great; makes me feel like I know you now.

Stephanie said...

Such a great photo. And great story.

Diane Adams said...

David, love your photo and your story. I agree with Lauren that this is novel material!!