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Blog You Don't Need To Be Published To Be An Author Or An Illustrator: You Just Need To Write & Draw

You Don't Need To Be Published To Be An Author Or An Illustrator: You Just Need To Write & Draw

By Harriet Muncaster | Author, Guest Blog, Illustrator, Top Tips

You Don't Need To Be Published To Be An Author Or An Illustrator: You Just Need To Write & Draw

Author of 'Emerald and the Ocean Parade', Harriet Muncaster explains her love for writing and drawing & how you can be an author or an illustrator without being published!

I have been an author and an illustrator for as long as I can remember, because I have always loved creating my own characters and worlds. You don’t need to be published to be an author or an illustrator: you just need to write and draw. This is something I always tell the children I meet when I visit schools, because they always ask how I got to do my job. The fact is that all you need to become an author or an illustrator is a pencil, some paper and an idea for a character. With those three things, you can create a whole world that is all your own, and you get to choose everything that goes into it and everything that will happen there.

This is what has always attracted me to writing and drawing. I love creating characters and imagining the worlds they inhabit. Sometimes I like to create fantasy worlds, and sometimes I like my characters to live in our world. I have always particularly had a fascination with miniature characters in our full-size world. One of my favourite games when I was young (and even now I am an adult) is having a little ‘mascot’ character I can take on adventures. When I was a child these were little ‘Sylvanian Families’ dolls or little stuffed animals from shops, but as an adult I make my own characters.

I used to take them everywhere with me, including on holiday. I would take them on adventures exploring and having picnics on the Scottish island we used to visit as a child, or the beach in Cornwall near where we stayed, and then I used to photograph, draw and write about their adventures. These childhood holidays immersed in nature and the way my ‘mascots’ explored them, remain a huge influence on the stories I write today. For example, my Victoria Stitch series is all about miniature people who live in a magical wood and visit our human world, while the bay Isadora visits in Isadora Moon Goes Camping is inspired by my Cornish childhood holidays.

That love of making up characters inspired me to keep writing and drawing my own stories, just for the love of it. I didn’t even realise that writing and illustrating children’s books was an actual job you could do until I was fifteen! Once I knew it was an actual career option, then I realised that I had always been an author and an illustrator, and my next goal was to get published. That’s a whole other challenge I don’t have space to go into here, so for now, I’ll leave you with my top three tips for any budding authors and illustrators:

  1. Follow your passion –what makes you feel fizzy and excited and inspired inside? For me it’s miniature things and being out in nature. Whatever it is for you, that’s the best place to start with your writing and drawing. If your creations are based on things that you are passionate about, then you will enjoy working hard at making them the best they can be.

  2. Play – children are fantastic at playing, but it’s a skill we often lose as we get older. I still love to play with my mascots by setting up and photographing miniature scenes for them. Playing and having fun is a great way to boost your creativity!

  3. Practise – the more you do anything, the better you will get at it, so if you want to be an author or an illustrator, you need to write lots and draw lots. Don’t get disheartened if your stories or pictures don’t come out perfectly first time, or even on fiftieth go! The more you practise, the better your creations will be!

For even more tips and activities you can visit Harriet's website here!

You can buy a copy of Emerald and the Ocean Parade here

Published: Fri 28th Apr 2023

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