When I grew up, we didn't go back to school until after Labor Day. Now, school starts in August and here in Florida that means slogging through a fat layer of heat and humidity to get to bus stop and classes. So in honor of students everywhere who are trying to shake off summer and switch on their learning brains, here's my Start-of-School Survival Guide for Creative Types:
1. Journal and draw, every day if you can. Put all that stuff you can't talk about (good and bad) into words or art nobody but you needs to see.
2. Find new authors to read, new protagonists to relate to, new books to add to your favorites' list. Books are not only great escapes, they're great companions.
3. Dream a dream and then live it. Start a novel or picture book, enter a contest, submit to an art show, a magazine or other publication. Write book reviews on sites like Goodreads or Teenreads. Volunteer to write or create art for a cause you're passionate about.
4. If you don't have a mentor, try to find one. Someone who believes in your work, encourages you and challenges you to reach for the stars.
5. Find your tribe. They're out there, other creative minds who think and dream like you. If you already have a tribe, keep an eye out for artists wandering the halls alone. We artists spend so much time in our heads, it's sometimes hard to connect to the world. But without doubt, we need to.
6. Read, watch and listen to artists of every discipline. Discover new visual artists, musicians, dancers and writers. Don't analyze, just enjoy them and trust your subconscious to absorb and process what it needs.
That's all my heat-zapped brain can provide at the moment. Except to say, someday the memories you create this year will show up in your art. You may even become a MG or YA writer or illustrator. Then you'll search your brain for every scrap of memory from your middle grade and high school years to provide believable characters and plot.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
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