by Katie Frawley

Say what you will about 2020, it sure was a year of comfortable pants. Sweat pants, pajama pants, yoga pants, no pants. I’m all for being comfortable in our clothes, but being comfortable in our writing lives? Not so much.

When I first started writing picture books in 2016, funny manuscripts poured out. Silly stories. Kooky characters. Goofy gags. That was my jam! My debut picture book, TABITHA AND FRITZ TRADE PLACES, is a funny story about a cat and an elephant who do a vacation home swap through a website called LairBnB. It was a pleasure to write, and I hope it’s a hoot for kids to read!

I wore my comfortable picture book pants day in, day out. They were familiar, well-worn, and had just the right amount of stretch around the waist. Ahhhh.

Then, a few months back, opportunity knocked. Unanticipated, unfamiliar, uncomfortable OPPORTUNITY.

A friend in the movie business reached out and asked if I’d like to participate in a writer’s lab for a children’s animation studio. Here’s how the conversation went…

Her: Have you ever thought about writing children’s animation?

My brain: What? Animation? Like movies and stuff? COOL!

Me: I haven’t! Do you have something specific in mind?

Her: I’d like to get you into a writer’s lab. You’d need to come up with 10 movie or TV series pitches in two weeks. What do you think?

My brain: Say yes! Say YES! YES, YOU IDIOT!!!!!

Me: I’d love to give it a try! Thanks for thinking of me!

Her: I’ll be in touch with details.

Me: Talk soon!

My brain: Wait! We don’t know anything about writing for the screen. We only write picture books. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU???

Writing these pitches was miles outside my comfort zone. Not only had I never thought about writing a screenplay, I’d never even read one. I can pitch a picture book like Nolan Ryan, but animation pitches? It was a whole new ballgame. But there was no backing out now. So I put on my big girl pants (which are MUCH less comfortable than sweatpants, by the way) and got to work.

It wasn’t easy. Most of it wasn’t fun. But I cranked it out. I flexed different parts of my brain, I repurposed old Storystorm ideas, I almost cried a few times! And the result? Well, I don’t actually know yet! My fingers are still very much crossed. But I know one thing. I am a stronger writer for the journey. The mere act of pushing myself was the reward.

So, here’s my advice to you: Get out of your comfort zone! If you only write humor, try something soulful. If you’ve been a rhymer so far, slip into some prose. If you tend toward true stories, see how fiction feels. As you jot your way through StoryStorm, write down ANY idea that calls to you, whether it feels familiar or not. Maybe you’ll writer a winner; maybe you won’t. But you’ll benefit from the journey either way.

And remember, if you’re going to push yourself outside your comfort zone, you might as well wear comfortable pants.

Katie Frawley studied English at the University of Florida (GO GATORS!) and earned a Master’s Degree in British and American literature from Florida Atlantic University. Before having her children, she had the distinct honor of teaching English to rowdy teenagers. When not banging away on the keyboard, Katie can be found testing new recipes with her miniature sous chefs, shooing iguanas away from her garden, or reading picture books to a captive audience on the couch. Katie lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her husband, five children, and a handsome mutt named Nantucket.

Find Katie on Twitter @KatieFrawley1 or at her website Katie’s debut, TABITHA AND FRITZ TRADE PLACES, is traveling to shelves on the first of June! If you’d like to pre-order, please support your local indie!

Katie is giving away one picture book and one copy of TABITHA AND FRITZ TRADE PLACES when it’s released.

Two separate winners will be randomly selected.

Leave one comment below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.