SCBWI Summer 2012 Recap: Looking Backward to Go Forward

Over a week has passed since I returned from the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. What a week it was, too. Spent the first couple of days shuffling around like a zombie (averaging three hours of sleep per night will do that to a person). The rest of the week was spent in a fevered spell of focused creativity.

Now, it’s time to recap for you some of what I learned at this amazing event.

I need to start by saying, if you write for children, you should join the SCBWI. And you should attend the conferences. They are so worth the time and money. Great organization. Great people.

OK. Recap. Here we go.

Looking Backward to Go Forward

The first morning of the conference, Tony DiTerlizzi, author of The Search for Wondla and co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles, gave a keynote address titled, “Never Abandon Imagination”. Tony is an energetic, entertaining speaker. He shared with us what he was like as a kid, how he didn’t like reading books because they were full of words and he found words boring but how, when a teacher told him to draw a scene from a book, he discovered his life’s passion.

When it comes to writing and illustrating, Tony asks himself, “What would ten year-old Tony want that old Tony can make?”

He showed us a photo of his studio, where he’s surrounded himself with artifacts from his childhood. He keeps these around as he creates, he says, to keep in touch with his ten year-old self. He keeps the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the tough stuff. Then he figures out how 40 year-old Tony can relate to his ten year-old self.

In other words, he looks backward before moving forward.

Good advice.

Update: You can read Tony’s account of his experiences at the SCBWI conference here.