Posted by: nancyisanders | May 14, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in One Week: Wednesday

day 3HPIM8206

How’s your nonfiction picture book journey going so far? As you can see from the photo above, I like to move around the house when I’m working long hours on a manuscript. This is a photo of my writing desk where I spend part of my time typing into my laptop. I have a “book chair” next to it that is so handy for propping up manuscripts or books to look at. Plus a tray to my left where I can stack research books I’m using.

Once again, here’s my hour by hour schedule just in case you’d like to see what I actually do all day long.

8:45 I worked on my First Writing Session of the day, following the calendar I provided for this project. This means I spend time editing what I’ve written so far, then read the turning point in my mentor text, and then spent time researching and digging up facts before I tried an attempt to write my turning point.

And this morning I felt like I discovered gold! I found a primary source I can use. Woohoo. Primary sources are so valuable because usually that means we can use them as our one stop source without having to look for 3 sources to back up each fact we state. This will make my job so much easier. I hope you find a primary source you can use, too.

9:40 Breakfast break

10:45 Time to start my Second Writing Session. Part of this included starting my sidebars. Since I’ve been adding my research resources as “footnotes” at the bottom of each page, I decided to plug in my sidebars as “endnotes” at the end of the manuscript. Within each endnote, I also pasted the bibliography to keep track of the source of each fact in my sidebars.

12:15 Lunch break.

1:00 Two of my precious writing friends arrived at my house for our weekly writer’s mini-retreat we’re doing together this spring. They worked on their historic fiction picture book while I worked on the Third Writing Session for my nonfiction picture book.

4:00 My friends headed home. I finished my Third Writing Session for the day.

5:00 Time for dinner again. Another full day. I am getting super-charged and mega-excited about this manuscript. It’s amazing how putting in solid hours of research equip us and empower us to write about a topic just 3 days earlier we knew nothing about.

And if you feel as if you’re drowning in research, keep reminding yourself that this is a picture book. 800 words is great, but if your mentor text is longer, you can go up to 1100 words or a little bit longer. That’s it! Really!

Focus on “story” instead of “facts” and it will make your journey a little bit easier and less-overwhelming regarding all the facts you’re digging up.

Think of it this way. You have a shovel and you’re digging for buried treasure. You are carrying a small leather sack and you have to fit the most valuable jewels in it. That’s your picture book. All the rest you can toss in a trunk and come back for later. That’s any future projects you might want to write with this research. Hope that helps!


  1. Nancy, I look forward to your posts. You amaze me at all you do, though I know that you are doing your job! (and doing it well!!!) Thanks for all the sharing. It’s always a sweet nudge of motivation!

    • Glad you’re motivated, Mona! And how did your conference go?

  2. I got my schedule for the day. I am on it. Thanks đŸ˜€

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