Posted by: nancyisanders | April 4, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Prep

nest in strawberries HPIM0775

There are just a few other things we can be doing right now to prepare for writing the first draft of a nonfiction picture book in three weeks.

For one thing, it helps to get a little peek at what’s ahead. Simply put, I’ll post a 3-week calendar next Monday that we can follow over the next three weeks to get the job done.

I always organize a tight deadline with a calendar. It helps me stay on task.

Basically, in order to accomplish the goal of writing a nonfiction picture book in 3 weeks, it will take about 3 hours each day, five days a week, to accomplish the tasks.

There really aren’t many shortcuts to take. We’ve got to take time to research. We’ve got to take time to study our mentor text. We’ve got to take time to brainstorm ideas and plot the structure and plan the outline. We’ve got to take time to write, actually write, our first draft.

Try to think of it this way…we’ve spent the last four months learning a lot of the steps and techniques it takes to write a nonfiction picture book. It’s as if we’ve been in training for long distance running. But now we’re going to actually step up and do a half marathon by writing the first draft in 3 weeks. And when we drop everything and write a nonfiction picture book in just one week, it’s as if we’re going to run a marathon. It gets pretty intense. But it’s also just a matter of learning how to rearrange your schedule and build your stamina to write full-time. Lots of folks do this, especially those who want to earn an income from writing.

But don’t worry if you look at your calendar for next week and know you don’t have 3 hours every day to write. Just do what you can and keep moving forward as you can. This book isn’t under contract, so you don’t need to stress out if it takes you longer than three weeks.

I’m just showing you how I accomplish a project like this in this amount of time so that one day when you do get a deadline to write a nonfiction project this quickly, you’ll know how to do it. And if you’re offered a thousand dollars a week to write at this pace (as I’ve been and other writers I know have been) you’ll be highly motivated to clear off your calendar and focus on this project!

But for now, here are 2 important steps to take:

Step 1: Make a commitment to follow along in the upcoming weeks and write an 800-word nonfiction picture book from beginning to end.

Step 2: Figure out what will motivate you to follow through and write the first draft of your manuscript from beginning to end.

The best way to stay motivated is to plan now, plan today, plan this exact moment what you’re going to do to stay motivated so that by the end of the journey you’ll have actually written your picture book.

What are you going to plan? That’s for you to decide. It’s important to choose a method that will actually work for YOU.

Would having another writer join in the journey help you stay motivated for the next 3 weeks?
Then call up a writer friend and ask her to come along and join in the fun!

Would blogging about it on your own blog or posting about it on Facebook help you stay motivated to follow through and write this book?
Then start blogging about it right away and share the progress you’re making with all your readers.

Would a deadline help you stay motivated?
Then get out your calendar and circle April 25 in red and make that your deadline and stick with your goal.

Would a calendar help you stay motivated?
Then print out the calendar I’ll be posting here on my blog next Monday and stick with it.

Would a cash prize help you stay motivated for the next 3 weeks?
Then put $100 in an envelope and hide it somewhere you won’t be able to get it until you actually finish that first draft. When you’re done, take a well-deserved shopping spree!

The point is this: By planning ahead now to reach the finish line in 3 weeks, you can make your dream a reality.

You can write a nonfiction book from beginning to end and actually get it done. And in today’s market where nonfiction picture books are hot, this is a fantastic accomplishment to make as a children’s writer.

So how about it? What are you going to do today to make sure you stay motivated for the next 3 weeks to write, actually write, the first draft of your 800-word nonfiction picture book? We’d love to hear and cheer you on!


  1. Reblogged this on Why I Write Picture Books? (#YIWritePB) and commented:
    Reblogging this to share this valuable information.

  2. I started early because I have so much travel this month. I used your Basic Plot Worksheet after lugging home a big bag of biographies, and was amazed to discover this structure in the first two! I think both will be good mentor texts for me: Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library (as you suggested) and Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote. Thanks!

    • Wow, Pat, you go girl!!!! And how exciting that you discovered that these two books follow this Basic Plot Worksheet. You’ll discover most picture books do. And this discovery leads to an amazing giant leap in your own writing as you craft your own manuscript to follow this structure as well. Eager to hear how this progresses for you!

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