Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mo Willems' Keynote: "Writing in 4 Easy Steps, 4 Kinda Harder Steps, and 1 Impossible Step"

Don't let the pigeon drive the bus, but do let Mo Willems give the closing keynote at a conference weekend full of icons and inspiration!

Mo Willems!
Mo has six Emmys, Three Caldecott honors, three Geisel medals and as Lin says in her introduction, "He is the phenom of our business"

He cautions us that writers are filters, not spigots.  "Be a filter, don't be a spigot."  So here are a few of the filtered highlights of Mo's keynote:

"We're not trying to make stories that are going to be read, we're trying to make stories that are going to be read a milliondy billiondy times."

Three of his 9 tips:

*Be succinct.  'Nuff said.
*You may own your story's copyright but you don't own its meaning
*Be Superlative

"I've dreamed that everything I write will change the world for the better."  If you're just dreaming of being published, dream bigger.

For Illustrators,
Always start your illustrations in the middle (to kind of warm up) and save the cover and opening spreads for the end (when you're in the zone and it's flowing) - because those are the first ones people will read!

Mo is funny, irreverent, insightful, sharing advice and stories, showing us the difference between a hook and a story - while people are crying/laughing, laughing/crying -  telling us which is his most personal book, the truth about 'write what you know' (don't do it - write to discover what you don't know), giving us a bunch of great illustration tips and career tips, and so much more...

And perhaps most magically, this is the filtered line that's resonating for me...

"Your job is to be [through your books] some child's best friend."

We're riveted...

and on our feet, cheering!

Mo is amazing!

What a finale!


  1. Thank you all for your stellar coverage here and on twitter, as per usual!

  2. Amazing to be able to follow the conference from my office (well actually the couch) here in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Thank you!

  3. I laughed so hard, tears were running down my leg.