What kind of opportunities you need to grow depend on where you are in your writer's / illustrator's journey.
Let's assume you are a newbie.You should be spending your energy
- learning your craft
- building a body of work
- developing relationships in the publishing world.
Take every Opportunity for critique. Seek Opportunities for exposure.
- When attending a conference or workshop, sign-up for as many critiques as you can: first page reads, portfolio reviews, editor one-on-ones. Listen carefully, take lots of notes, put it all into perspective.
- Get into a critique group. Learn to evaluate others' work and apply the same principles to your own creations. Share what you learn with others.
- Participate in challenges. Meeting deadlines is an indispensable skill for authors and artists. The best challenges also come with a supportive community. This is a great place to meet critique partners and build friendships.
Maybe you are more of a seasoned professional.
You are spending your time
- polishing your craft
- keeping your body of work fresh
- strengthening relationships in the publishing world
You are probably going from surviving to maintaining right now. Most of you are still plagued by an Overzealous inner critic. You may feel alternately Optimistic and Oppressed. Succesful one minute, forgotten the next.
Make the most of professional Opportunities. Pursue new Opportunities for exposure.
- Attend a conference or workshop which takes you in a new direction or challenges you at a new level. Listen carefully, keep it all in perspective.
- Reevaluate your critique group. Find your niche platform where you can share with others.
- Participate in challenges. Keeping yourself fresh is an indispensable skill for authors and artists. Take advantage of the supportive challenge community. Remember how to have fun.
Illustrators may want to participate in Susanna Leonard Hill's first ever art contest. Her contests are always challenging and fun. She offers great prizes and the participants are super supportive. The deadline is a week away, so please spread the word.
Here is a partial list of additional challenges you may want to add to your calendar over the next twelve months.