Writing Road Trip

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde


Some­thing that has always stuck with me from pio­neer tales is the images of the keep­sakes and oth­er non-man­­da­­­to­ry items pio­neer fam­i­lies often had to dis­card on the trail as the trip became hard­er and the oxen grew weary of pulling the over­loaded wag­ons. This is just one of the rea­sons on the very long

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Possible Detours 

Once, in one of my (not uncom­mon) moments of think­ing that I could no longer han­dle the finan­cial uncer­tain­ty of the children’s book writ­ing life, I read a book that pur­port­ed to match cre­ative peo­ple to poten­tial career pur­suits. I read the advice, filled out the quizzes, and final­ly received my assigned “type.” With great antic­i­pa­tion I turned to the

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Wish You Were Here 

There are lots of ways that young writ­ers can use actu­al col­lag­ing and relat­ed tech­niques to build a set­ting for their own stories.

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde


Recent­ly, I’ve been think­ing back on a time when my focus was riv­et­ed on help­ing to care for a fam­i­ly mem­ber who was deal­ing with seri­ous med­ical issues. It’s been stress­ful to have this large “life moment” dis­rupt my nor­mal rou­tine, but it also brings with it a cer­tain kind of clar­i­ty. It’s kind of like dri­ving at

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Watching for the Brown Truck 

A few years back, I had one fright­en­ing week. I had my head down, work­ing hard, when I heard a com­mo­tion out­side. I got up to look out my front win­dow and saw the SWAT team march­ing towards my house, car­ry­ing guns and wear­ing bul­let-proof vests. Once the sound of the news heli­copters alert­ed me to turn on the TV,

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Emergency Car Kit 

When I was a kid grow­ing up in the north woods of Min­neso­ta, a group of my neigh­bor­hood friends had a “Chip­munk Fort.” It was con­struct­ed out of a pile of old fenc­ing mate­ri­als in my friend Paul’s back­yard; each kid had their own “house” in the fort. We spent some time col­lect­ing pret­ty rocks and odd­ly shaped sticks

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Fake ID 

Ask your young writ­ers to imag­ine a social media profile for their main char­ac­ter. What games do they play? Do they win? Do they cheat? What would their online profile say? Do they lie when they’re online, and if so, what about?

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

In the Driver’s Seat 

To be able to learn how to get some­where, I have to dri­ve the route myself. Rid­ing shot­gun doesn’t work if I’m try­ing to mem­o­rize the route; some­how the feel­ing of the nec­es­sary twists and turns has to seep up through the steer­ing wheel and into the pores of my hands for me to be able

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde


I try to deliv­er reg­u­lar advice you can use to aid and inspire your young writ­ers, but this week I’m lean­ing on the wis­dom of oth­ers. This is advice I’ve found help­ful those times it feels like my writ­ing wheels are stuck in deep mud and spin­ning wild­ly and I’ll nev­er gain trac­tion again. Here,

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Blind Spots 

Blind spots are a dri­ving dan­ger, but they can also be a read­ing pleasure. 

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

The Finish Line 

Noth­ing is a big­ger thrill for the young writ­ers I men­tor than what we have come to call their “pub­li­ca­tion parties.”

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs 

When I was a young teenag­er my fam­i­ly made a road trip from Min­neso­ta to Texas to vis­it my father’s par­ents. The long trip south most­ly fea­tured one kind of civ­il war: the end­less bick­er­ing of my two broth­ers and the male cousin who’d come along for the ride. For the trip back north, I staked out a hidey-hole in

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

That’s How I Roll 

As a kid I was the one who insti­gat­ed a lot of the fun. It might be play­ing pirates in the tree house, or cops and rob­bers in my mom’s parked sta­tion wag­on, or spies who wrote secret code in lemon juice (lat­er reveal­ing the mes­sage by hold­ing it over the toast­er). Often our make believe reflect­ed whatever

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

Tuned in to Talk Radio 

When I was a lit­tle girl and my Min­neso­ta grand­par­ents came to vis­it, we shared them around for sleep­ing pur­pos­es. One night I would share my dou­ble bed with Grand­ma, and the next night my broth­er and I would switch places, and I’d sleep on his top bunk while Grand­pa set­tled into the bot­tom bunk. Grand­ma was a bit of a night

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde

That Time I Drove the Karma Bus 

All fresh­men at my col­lege had to wear bean­ies at the start of school. Besides the obvi­ous fash­ion quandary, the prob­lem was that stu­dents from the town’s rival col­lege glo­ried in steal­ing bean­ies. And I knew if any of my upper class­mates caught me sans beanie, they had the pow­er to make me stand on a table

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