Ask the Author: Erin Le Clerc

“I'm taking questions about my new picture book, I've Got A Cow Called Maureen, and about writing in general! Look forward to hearing from you!” Erin Le Clerc

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Erin Le Clerc I'd say that, when it comes to writing for children, a mash-up of Enid Blyton (magic, whimsy and adventure) and Mem Fox (heartfelt, clever, sweet)! For older writing, LM Montgomery, Eva Rice, JK Rowling, Dodie Smith, Elizabeth Peters... the list goes on! In the end, every writer seems to end up a sum of all the books they've loved and absorbed!
Erin Le Clerc I read something interesting recently, which said, essentially, writers need to be in a constant state of inspiration to get their writing out. This strongly resonated with me, and explained why, instinctively, I search out inspirational quotes about writing, look for books to read that inspire me on my own writing journey, why I am most motivated while participating in writing courses/challenges, and why I've joined multiple communities who write, to keep me company as I go. Everyone is different. This is the way that works for me.

One of the most useful things I've done recently, though, was sign up for a 31-day idea generating challenge - StoryStorm by Tara Lazar - where I committed to writing down 30 ideas for stories over the month of January. I absolutely loved the challenge in the end (I began it thinking : THIS WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE!), because what it's triggered for me is this constant state of noticing and jotting down stories, scenes, characters, title ideas that come to me. I now have more than 30 ideas that I can play with and work on and grow, which makes me SO excited for the year of writing ahead.

Being inspired is like exercising a muscle, which permissions your brain to send you ideas, because it sees you're open to them!
Erin Le Clerc 'I've Got A Cow Called Maureen' was inspired by two stories I've heard over the years about my Nana Maureen. I knew she'd become Australia's Champion Swiss Yodeller in the 1940s, but I didn't know her local townsfolk had entered her in a radio contest, which gave her a start! I also remember my mother telling me how irritated Nana got as a child, when local farmers would say "Why, I've got a cow called Maureen!" (Nana still rolls her eyes when she remembers this.) Somehow, my brain put the two ideas together, and the story was born. It went through many edits before it became the book it is today, but it started with a spark of inspiration, a touch of humour, and a desire to share my beloved Nana's story with the world.
Erin Le Clerc Getting to have fun with words! Words, wordplay - they were my first true loves. I love a beautiful turn of phrase, or a lyrical scene. I love that reading becomes an extension of writing, having always loved books! I also love hearing constructive feedback for my work, so I can make it better (I am a weirdo... I love editing!), and probably the most lovely thing is getting positive feedback for something I've worked really hard for. Hearing "I love your book!" is a privilege I will never take for granted or tire of!

I realise I just used the word "love" about a million times, but that's my core truth: I love storytelling. I love writing. I love articulating an idea. I love translating an idea into a story that can inspire or excite. The best thing about writing is loving writing! :)
Erin Le Clerc Sometimes you just need to take a "brain break". Go do something else. Head to your favourite café and people watch. Read some books. Watch TV. Go for a walk by the water. Give your brain a break from "having to be productive" and let it just rest awhile.

Once you're rested, I'm a big fan of pen and paper, and just throwing some ideas around. Map stuff that you may or may not use. If I'm really stuck, I might read a mentor text, or even set aside that story completely and start working on something (anything!) else. It's all about getting the flow happening again.

I find I am most productive when I go to "write ins" using the Pomodoro Technique (25 mins silent work, 5 min break). When others are silently writing/tapping away at their keyboards, all diligently working, I feel inspired to push through my stuck points, and it's often there that inspiration hits and I get the next scene/idea that helps me complete a project!
Erin Le Clerc Start reading blogs about writing, and if you can, sign up to online challenges, or some paid courses to understand what the industry is looking for, how to format your work so that it's not overlooked on a technical difficulty, and otherwise: write, write, write some more! Join a local writing group, build up some critique buddies, get feedback on you work, and keep honing your voice. It's not a short road, but it's a worthwhile one!
Erin Le Clerc I'm currently working on quite a few new picture book manuscripts, as well as a longer Middle Grade novel, which I intend to finish writing this year!

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