Janell Cannon

Janell CannonJanell Cannon is the author of children's books such as Stellaluna, Verdi, and Pinduli.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

First, I try to persist in pushing myself into the writing process, just to make sure it's not just laziness or lack of discipline. If I keep writing inane things due to lack of clarity on the subject, I walk away from the project and do other things that need doing for a day or two or three. More often than not, a solution has crept into my mind from some recess in my brain, or through something I've encountered while not consciously thinking about the project, or through further research related to what I'm trying to write about.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

Because my book characters are animals, I immerse in nature for my ideas. Watching any creature long enough reveals very interesting behavior and almost always inspires questions about what might happen to this creature and how it might respond in imaginary circumstances. Often the traits of animals parallel those of humans and so stories can be told using animal characters that behave in very familiar ways, and address similar challenges in life. It's a territory rich in metaphor.

What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?

I was in my late thirties before I ever considered myself a writer, because at that time I just had a picture book published, and so it seemed that I could try on that title. I am primarily an illustrator, so art was the focus of my childhood interests. I remember my grandmother telling me at a very young age that my ability to draw was a gift from God. My parents were not religious and neither was I, but her statement gave me a lasting notion that I shouldn't squander this aptitude, and to develop it as best I could. And I always felt that I was made to do what I do.