Here in Montana, our regional SCBWI chapter gets to put on some pretty cool retreats. Several years ago, we gathered at the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch up Gallatin Canyon for several days of writing, critique, and discussion. This working dude ranch, with hundreds of wild rabbits, has a breathtaking setting, way up in the mountains just north of Yellowstone Park. Incredibly peaceful. The perfect place to really absorb some of the best writing advice I've ever received.
That year, Linda Sue Park came to our retreat. I think I learned more from her speeches and one-on-one interactions (yes, one-on-one. There were only about 30 of us there) than from any other retreat or conference I've been to. Sometimes good writing advice takes years to fully mature as it's marinating in my brain along with my stories. That was the case with Linda's words. She talked about learning how to try new things, and liberate our writing selves from what we 'think' is the only way to do it. During critique, as ideas or suggestions would come up, she repeatedly said, "Well, just try it. See what happens."
Since then, I've 'just tried it' countless times. Other times I've forgotten that advice, and locked myself into what I 'thought' was the best way to take a story. Eventually, I have the moment where I remember her advice. Then I pause and say, "oh". I can almost feel my brain chains relaxing and falling. Just try it.
I recommend the 'just try it' approach to EVERY idea that comes along. Just try it. If you hate it, throw it out. But so far in my writing, just about every time I've tried it, my story gets better. Right now I'm in the middle of a 'just try it' revision, and I think I like where I'm headed. Thank you, Linda Sue Park!
Writing for children is a passion - along with reading kid's books, writing plays for kids, and teaching kids how to write!