Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The qualities and habits of a children's writer...

Some folk think writing for children is somehow easier than writing for adults. I tend to think they have forgotten that writers for adults have more in common with their audience and in truth might often be considered to be writing for someone who is essentially themselves. Writing for an audience from whose company you were separated some decades previous adds a certain degree of difficulty. Factor in that childhood now is a very different kettle of fish from what it used to be and you add another degree or 30 - when I was a child I rode around the nearby cul de sac with the other neighbourhood kids till after dark, and went all sorts of places on my own recognisance. There was no internet. No cellphones. No playstations. It is not overstating it to say that times and childhood have changed considerably and irrevocably. The gap to be bridged between childhood and adulthood, between then and now, requires a special kind of engineering. That children's writers make it look easy, is not because it is. It is because they have some unique skills.

So what habits and qualities facilitate the development of these skills?

1) Read children's books.
2) Be in touch with the child you were
3) Be in touch with the child you still have inside you now.
4) No lecturing, hectoring, badgering and preaching unless you are a lecturer, Hector, badger or preacher, and even then, don't do it.
5) Don't be afraid for your audience
6) Don't be reckless with your audience
7) Be smart
8) Be silly
9) Be honest
10) Be respectful
11) work hard

If you think these things are easy, you are doing them wrong. And there are no shortcuts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm lucky that way Melinda. I seem to be into my second (or is it third?) childhood :)