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Thursday, February 25, 2021

3 Reasons to Keep Writing

Not long ago, I attended a webinar on writing concept books. For those of you who don’t write for kids, a concept book is a picture book about . . . a concept. Alphabet books, counting books, and books about the Fibonacci sequence are all concept books. Yes, there are picture books about the Fibonacci sequence. Check out Joyce Sidman’s Swirl by Swirl and Sarah Campbell’s Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. 

The presenter for the webinar was Liz Garton Scanlon and she recommended a long list of concept books. When they arrived, I eagerly sat down to read. I had to laugh after I finished One Dark Bird by Liz Garton Scanlon and Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt. Both are counting books about black birds. 

I couldn’t help but wonder what Scanlon thought if she discovered Counting Crows (2015) while she was working on One Dark Bird (2019). The good news is that she both found publishers because they are very different books.  There is room for both. 

How often do we put an idea aside when we hear someone is working on something similar? What we need to do is keep writing and here is why. 

Imaginary Dragons 

Writing is tough enough without us creating imaginary problems. When you hear about a book in production that sounds like your own idea, a counting book about birds, it can be easy to become discouraged. "Someone beat me to it!"   Maybe yes. Maybe no. If the piece hasn’t been published, you may be assuming it is too like your own work, because your work will be told through . . . 

Your POV 

When you write, you tell the fiction or nonfiction story through your individual point of view (POV). No matter what you are writing it will somehow reflect your unique take on the world. That other author? Even siblings have different experiences and look at things differently. What is the chance that this author will see things just like you do? Pretty slim. So keep writing. 

Reslant or Reimagine 

If you can read the other writer’s work, do. Although it probably isn't very like your own idea, it may be. And if it is, you can reslant or reimagine your own work. A nonfiction picture book could become fiction. Or you might write it for older readers. A book for an educational publisher will be different than one written for a trade publisher or a regional publisher. A picture book? It may be fully illustrated but it is different from a graphic novel.

Whether you are writing a counting book, a book about birds, or even one about the Fibonacci sequence, there is almost always room for more than one book. You simply need to find your unique point of view and the piece that only you could write. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins March 1, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  March 1, 2021). 


  1. Sue--Of course my ADD brain saw "Imagine Dragons" instead of "Imaginary Dragons," and my head was filled with music. Sorry. Back to the post and what it really says.

    I love your advice about reslanting and reimagining. Sometimes, doing that not only opens up publishing possibilities, it also makes the project come together better. I've taken a story and written it as a free verse poem. It sucked as a story, but I loved it once it morphed into a poem.

    Thanks for this post, Sue. As always, you get me thinking, and your advice is always sound (even if it causes sounds to fill my brain momentarily ;)

  2. Sioux,
    Ha! Imagine Dragons worked!

    Story to poem - I hadn't thought of that. So glad that worked for your piece.

  3. Sue, this has happened to me a lot, seeing a similar article or book as the manuscript I was writing or ready to submit and so I put it aside. Fortunately I have revisited those manuscripts at later dates, still compelled to tell those stories, hoping I could add a uniqueness to them that would help them stand out. Thanks for this post Sue.

  4. Jeanine,
    Time can definitely give you the space you need to rework it but also distance from any possible competition. I think this is esp true in children's publishing. There is a new audience every 3 years or so.

  5. I like your comment that there's a new audience every three years or so! That gives me hope. I've also been discouraged a time or two when I find out about books that are similar in nature to mine (I mean, there aren't whole lot of YA novels that don't have stalking or a murder mystery in them) so I agree that perspective is important. Thanks for sharing these practical examples and what you learned with us at the webinar with us.

  6. Renee,
    We writers often seem to be much better at shelving things than we are at pushing on with a project. You've done such amazing work with your podcast. I think that if you could write a YA that touched on that, you'd tap into the same energy.


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