Writer’s Block? Play the What if Game

Guest post by Natasha Wing, author of picture book, How to Raise a Dinosaur.

A question writers are often asked is, “How do you get your ideas?”

Many of my ideas come from reading. Sometimes I’ll read an article in the newspaper and am curious to know more. That’s what happened when I read about the founder of the Girl Scouts in my Sunday newspaper. I then wrote a biography of Juliette Low. When I read a recipe book, there was an introduction about the owner of the bakery. I imagined him as a young boy with multicultural parents who owned a bakery. That story became Jalapeno Bagels.

For my new book, How to Raise a Dinosaur, I played the What if game. I had seen dog care books at a pet store and wondered, “What if my pet was a dinosaur?” From there I thought of all the things you’d have to do to care for a dinosaur such as buy chew toys, give him lots of walks, teach him to sit and stay, etc.

I’m sure illustrators play the What if game, too. When drawing dinosaurs, an illustrator might ask himself, “What if the dinosaur was purple?” What if I make him funny instead of mean? What if I used textured paper instead of markers for my drawings?

Asking “What if” questions can open up new possibilities and lead to exciting outcomes!

Play the What If game if you have writer's block

So let’s play the What if game.

What if you were . . . walking along a nature trail.

And what if you saw a prairie dog.

What if the prairie dog was as big as a basketball player?

And what if it was blue instead of brown?

And what if it wore glasses?

And what if it lost them?

Write a short story about your prairie dog and draw a picture of him.

Bio: Natasha Wing is a best-selling author of 20 books, with several on the way. How to Raise a Dinosaur (Oct. 5, 2010, Running Press Kids) is her first lift-the-flap book. Natasha is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. Follow her latest book news at www.natashawing.blogspot.com.

Melissa’s Note: Thanks, Natasha! This is such a fun way to spark imaginative thinking! And, yes, I did wonder where you got the idea for your book, How to Raise a Dinosaur. (Review here.)

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