A Newb Hoping To Give a Little/Get a Little (Advice, I Mean), by Joanne Vencius


I’m a newb (a newbie).

I’m not new to writing—I have a 20-year career in corporate marketing communications, but the idea of me writing for children is only a little over a year old. One night in my sleep, I dreamt up a fairy tale. I was so excited about it the next morning that I told my husband and my oldest son all about it. My son said, “Mom, that sounds really good.” (And I replied, “I KNOW!”)

Now, all I have left to learn about being a published writer of children’s literature is, well, everything. So I can’t offer any of you advice on that, but I hope I can offer some motivational advice on writing.

  1. Be patient. Not every undertaking is meant to produce a big outcome—some projects are just stepping stones. I knew decades ago that one day I would write about my life experiences, but I didn’t know what about my life was so interesting that anyone would care to read about it. So I was patient. One day, three or four years ago, I was talking with a close relative about some of my adventures, and suddenly I realized what I was going to write. Before I was half-way through writing it, I realized that project was just a precursor—it wasn’t going to turn into something big. It was just there for me to get my feet wet, so I could gain confidence in my talent from the kind feedback of my family and friends.
  1. Be inspired. Don’t try to muscle out writer’s block. If you try to force thoughts from your head onto paper or the computer screen, the results won’t be genuine. Time and time again I have faced a work deadline but felt uninspired, so I chose to hold off from writing. Then when I’d finally felt inspired, it seemed as if the words had floated down out of the air and landed in an order that was destined to become a great product. That’s true inspiration, and it’s worth the wait.
  1. Be resourceful.Regardless of your goals: in order to achieve success, find the experts and ask for advice or feedback. Last summer I unexpectedly finished writing a poem about bonding with my infant sons that I had started 10 years prior. (See what I mean about being patient and inspired?) When I decided to pursue the goal of having the poem published as a picture book, I thought about the authors who had written the standout books I read to my sons when they were infants. I recalled one of my favorites, looked up the author and found her contact information, sent her an email to thank her for being an inspiration to me, and I asked her for advice. Graciously, she wrote back to me in just a few days, and guess what she told me? Her advice was to join SCBWI!

So here I am: an SCBWI member for about a month, a writing newb with just one inspirational poem and a fairy tale in the works. I’m grateful for the warm welcome I’ve received from a few SCBWI members, and I’m open to everyone’s advice and feedback.

Thank you for being part of my journey!

Joanne has achieved a fulfilling 20-plus-year career as a corporate marketing communications writer. It has only been recently that she’s endeavored to become a writer of children’s literature. In 2016, she checked off the bucket-list item “write memoir” when she self-published Sometimes Heaven Whispers Through a Megaphone; Sometimes Heaven Nudges Us With a Catapult. It is a collection of short inspirational stories based on her personal experiences. Joanne lives in South Jersey with her husband, two sons and dog, Rosie. She also enjoys gardening, bird watching and arts.

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11 Responses to A Newb Hoping To Give a Little/Get a Little (Advice, I Mean), by Joanne Vencius

  1. judyrienzi says:

    Hi Joanne. Thanks for this post. I am a newb too. I am an nurse and have written a health workbook, nothing related to children. One day, I woke up with a story in my head and am writing it now. I guess this is how you start. Thanks for the encouragement. I feel like I’m not alone. I am not a member of SCBWI yet, but plan to be.
    Judy Rienzi.

    • Hi Judy,
      It sounds like we have a few things in common. The people at SCBWI have been so professional and kind in their advice and guidance that in the short time I’ve been a member, I already feel I have benefitted from it. I hope if you do join, you are as happy with your decision as I am.

  2. jeannecurtin says:

    Welcome, Joanne, to the wonderful world of children’s books!

  3. Kristen C.S. says:

    Excellent encouragement. Newbie or old timer, so many of us started in the same boat. My “had to be written” first story step came in the summer of 2012. Still pursuing publication, but the first advice I received was also to join SCBWI and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done! Welcome! =)

  4. Welcome! You made the perfect move to learn about writing for children and the road to publication by joining SCBWI Who knows where the journey will take you…enjoy the adventure.

  5. I loved reading about your journey, Joanne. Thank you for sharing this with us. Welcome to SCBWI!

  6. adillustration says:

    Those are gracious and wise words. Welcome to SCBWI!

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