Serious conversations about whether fairy dust would freeze in the North Pole, trips to Auckland Zoo to observe pigs going about their day and finding ways to have your stories translated into te reo.
If you're an author or illustrator creating picture books for children, that's all part of the daily grind - not that many of our writers and artists would describe crafting kids' books as a grind. On the contrary, fun is the word most often used by those in the business.
Next month, the winners of the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be announced with the six categories - picture book, junior fiction, young adult fiction, non-fiction, illustration, and books completely written in te reo Maori - featuring some of our best loved authors and artists.
Juliette MacIver has two books in contention for best picture book, Gwendolyn! (illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton) and That's Not a Hippopotamus! (illustrated by Sarah Davis).
MacIver started writing in 2007 when her third child was a newborn and says all the picture book reading she was doing was perfect research for her own stories. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics and a Diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language; words, she says, have always been her thing.
But she didn't know anything about how long a children's picture book should be - ideally around 600 words - and picked topics, usually quirky ones, that interested her.
It took her three years to get published but it was possibly worth the wait; her debut book, Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam, was shortlisted for the 2011 NZ Post Children's Book Award.
Since then, she's appeared regularly on the award lists for picture book writers.
"It's so much fun to craft these little worlds which other people want to step into," MacIver says.
In the early days, publishers chose the illustrators she would work with and, while it ultimately remains their decision, she can now say who her preference might be.
"I've got images in mind but often when I see what the artists produce, it's not what I had in mind and that's okay because they're usually so brilliant I find it quite easy to relinquish my images."
Maris O'Rourke says her route into writing for children was unconventional. With a long career in education - she was the first Secretary for Education in New Zealand and a Director of Education for the World Bank - O'Rourke swapped jobs to become a writer.
While she started with poetry, news of her first grandchild's imminent arrival prompted her to write her first book about a pig called Lillibutt.
The character was inspired by a pig she met while walking the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain with her sister, Evelyn.
"We came to a farmhouse and there was this adorable pig; Evelyn exclaimed, 'Look at that dear lillibutt of a pig!' We stopped and gave it some food and it followed us everywhere with its eyes, watching us intently as we went on our way," O'Rourke recalls.
"That night, everyone at the bar was talking saying, 'Did you see the pig? Wasn't it cute!' So I decided my story would be about what happened if the pig went for a walk."
She called her friend Claudia Pond Eyley about illustrating the book and the Auckland artist couldn't wait to get started. A visit to Auckland Zoo, home to a couple of kunekune pigs, provided the models for Lillibutt.
The day her grandson was born, O'Rourke visited the hospital with the completed book. Since then, she and Pond Eyley have produced two more Lillibutt books and, much to their delight, the third has been translated into te reo Maori.
Te Haerenga Maia a Riripata i Te Araroa, translated by Ani Wainui, is a finalist in the Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Maori.
O'Rourke describes it as a project close to her heart.
"I want everyone to do some small thing for te reo every year because that's how we will keep the language alive and that's crucial to our country because it's what helps to provide our uniqueness. My contribution was that I would have a children's book, Lillibutt's Te Araroa Adventure, translated. When I heard it had made the finals, I cried! It was just a wonderful affirmation."
2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults finalists include:
Picture Book Award
Fuzzy Doodle, Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ
Gwendolyn!, Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton, HarperCollins Publishers (ABC)
My Grandpa is a Dinosaur, Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones, illustrated by Richard Fairgray, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
That's Not a Hippopotamus!, Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Gecko Press
The Singing Dolphin/Te Aihe i Waiata, Mere Whaanga, Scholastic NZ
Russell Clark Award for Illustration
Fuzzy Doodle, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, written by Melinda Szymanik, Scholastic NZ
Gladys Goes to War, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, written by Glyn Harper, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
If I Was a Banana, illustrated by Kieran Rynhart, written by Alexandra Tylee, Gecko Press
Snark: Being a true history of the expedition that discovered the Snark and the Jabberwock . . . and its tragic aftermath, illustrated and written by David Elliot (after Lewis Carroll), Otago University Press
The Day the Costumes Stuck, illustrated and written by Toby Morris, Beatnik Publishing
Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Maori
Nga Manu Tukutuku e Whitu o Matariki, Calico McClintock, illustrated by Dominique Ford, translated by Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic NZ
Ngarara Huarau, Maxine Hemi, Illustrated by Andrew Burdan, Huia Publishers
Te Haerenga Maia a Riripata i Te Araroa, Maris O'Rourke, illustrated by Claudia Pond Eyley, translated by Ani Wainui, David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)
Te Kaihanga Mapere, Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
Tuna raua ko Hiriwa, Ripeka Takotowai Goddard, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews, Huia Publishers