We Are All Children’s Writers

I don’t have children, nor have I ever published a children’s story. I wrote a few short kid’s stories before, but nothing I considered sending out. I fancy myself a writer for adults, however after spending time with my niece Audrey and observing some of the shenanigans displayed by some of the local youths at my gym, I realized something:

Life is more beautiful through the eyes of a child.

I also realized that people, regardless of age, read stories to retain their youth, delving into a new world of adventure and escaping the monotony of everyday life. In essence, we are all writing for an audience full of excited, youthful-minded readers, regardless of the actual age of the person or tone of the story.

Children can teach us plenty about life, and even about writing. Here are a few child tendencies that can help us feed our audience’s hunger for new horizons while assisting with the business of writing as well:

  • Sharing and Lunch Table Trading – We all partook in haggling during lunch hours, and kids still do it today. Similar to children swapping a bag of Cheetos for Oreos at lunch hour, writers must strive to interact with other writers by sharing advise, trading favors and nurturing relationships through communication. Building relationships may take a while, but they pay off in the long run with sometimes tangible resources or simply just a friend to turn to.
  • Curiosity and Exploration – Ask questions constantly. When hanging out with my niece, she never accepts a simple answer to a question. The gears are always turning in her head, observing new things and asking “Why? Why? Why?”. We often march through life with our heads buried in our cell phones or a book and forget to soak in the smells of a gentle autumn wind, the sound of a bustling city intersection or even something as simple as the unstable feel of old wooden stairs. Although great for expanding your mind, emails, books or an Ipod won’t provide the inspiration needed for a compelling story, rather it lies around us.
  • All writers are young at heart – It’s easier to build a network and become friends with other writers through lightheartedness. In my experience everyone who writes has a part of them who still thinks they are a kid. Being silly and spreading joy to other writers is the best way to network and build relationships.
  • Playtime – Give yourself a break. Physical and mental excercise is necesarry for accelerating your creative juices. If you are stuck staring at your computer with no production, it might be time to partake in another activity.
  • What you love always comes first
  • It’s never too late to try something new – Part of a child’s life is playtime with friends. This provides the opportunity to try new things, test boundaries and explore the world. No matter what our age, we haven’t and learned everything. Try something new to invoke fresh ideas. Somewhere along the line we tend to lose the desire to learn about everything. Without learning, comes no new ideas for writing.
  • Don’t stop talking – If you have kids or have spent five minutes around a kid, you know that many of them have loud mouths. As we grow older we shouldn’t lose this desire to constantly connect and communicate with other people. Obviously, the form of communication evolves, but communicating with writers and readers through email, blog posts, story updates, social media, conferences and writing shows people your devotion to writing and will always provide quality feedback for future endevours.
  • Daydream – If an 100 year old man can run a marathon, than it is never too late for anyone to dream.
  • It’s OK to cry – Emotions are the best therapy for failure. There will be ups and down during your writing adventure. Have a good cry and then barrel forward.
  • Nothing is impossible – In today’s society, claiming you want to become a writer is not a practical notion. However, kids don’t ever see boundaries. Call it naivety, but if we come to terms with restrictions and follow the status quo, no innovation would ever occur in all of history. You wouldn’t know the name Einstein or Jobs or Hemingway, the Beatles would have broken up when their band mate dropped out because his parents told him a band couldn’t be a real job.

And some lessons to learn from teenagers:

  • Break the rules – Teenagers try to cross the line as much as they can. Testing the waters to see what they can get away with is part of the adventure of growing up. I know I did some stupid things when I was a teenager, but would I go back and change what I did? Nope. Why not? Because risk is enjoyable, invigorating, educational and unique. Those who take risks are people not satisfied with reality. They want to do something that other people said was impossible or not a good idea. A great story should be enjoyable, invigorating, educational, and unique. How can you know what those things are like, until you have experienced them yourself?
  • Be unique regardless of what people say – Teenagers refuse to not stand out from the crowd. They want to be seen, heard and noticed for what makes them an individual. That idea is often lost after someone tells you to dress, speak and act like everyone else. Creativity on the page starts with creativity in your own mind, on your own body and through your own actions.
  • Keep up with the times – We live in an age fueled by technology, and regardless of the time, the world will always be introduced to new innovations. I know many people have difficulty accepting these changes but children and teenagers are raised into a world where all current technologies are second nature. What we have to realize is that most innovations are for the betterment of society and should be embraced for personal gain, instead of dismissed. Take a page out of a teenager’s book and learn something new that might initially make you uncomfortable. Writers need to adapt and learn about the changes occurring around them. Also, if you happen to have kids, why not ask them to teach you about a new technology that may help further your writing career or write more efficiently.
  • Vicariousness – Teens want to learn things for themselves. They wish to make their own mistakes and not be lectured about everything they do wrong. This should help with your storytelling. Allow your readers the opportunity to figure out the story for themselves instead of babying them through.

Even if you are writing a finance article for 60 year old’s about to retire, your audience craves a fresh outlook, with unique themes and techniques on how to improve their current situation.

Youthfulness is too often forgotten in life. Bring it back through your writing.

And one last word…

“Good childrenโ€™s stories do not preach. Instead, they educate for life, by exploring significant themesโ€”as do good adult stories.” – Aaron Shepard.

See ya next time…

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Comments

  1. thevelvetpillow says:

    I love this post

  2. writingthebody says:

    It is funny – a long time ago I wrote a children’s story that I thought would be a little bit scary and at least interesting – when it was road tested, the child thought the whole thing was hilarious. So it is interesting to try to do as you say – put yourself in their mind…but good luck with that!

  3. Great post. I think that’s why I love writing YA. Being young is fun and exciting. It’s hard to write for youth and not feel that same excitement while writing your story.

  4. I enjoyed this…I think we learn something from every stage of life…but especially the young!

  5. Allison Forsythe says:

    I loved this post! It was just what I needed to read this morning.

  6. Sarah Lorain says:

    Love this! “I also realized that people, regardless of age, read stories to retain their youth,” …I think that’s why I write them too. I just found you through Heads For Tales. I’m one of the authors over there so just wanted to say thanks for subscribing! Hope we hear more from each other(:

  7. Jennifer M Zeiger says:

    Just read a book by Terry Brooks called Sometime’s the Magic Works. In it he describes the time he spends with his grandson playing pirates. It awesome! I totally agree with what you say here. Great post=)

  8. Great observations in this post. Like you, I write for adults (but I do have two kids)…and you’re right: life is more beautiful through their eyes. They don’t have the baggage that adults lug around and tend to assume good in people, while as adults, we see them through skeptical eyes.

  9. I like your points; the best points of children’s stories work well in adult stories too. Take the best of youth and the best of adulthood together, I say.

  10. Thank you, at just the right time i am reading just the right/write thing.

  11. Good words. Even as I look in the mirror and see a “not so young” woman, in my mind I am still that 18 year old girl set on embracing life. As the passage of our life tries to pull us from that embrace, we need to be reminded to stop and watch a child and know we can step back into the anticipation and even warmth of our youth. It is in that anticipation that we challenged to stay young. Thank you for the reminder!

  12. I think it’s beacsue many fo us are so easily reminded of what made up happy when we were younger

  13. I loved this post. The comment about writers being young at heart definitely strikes home. I firmly believe that writers are still partly stuck in the beautiful world of make believe. We enjoy creating new worlds and becoming the characters we write about even if it’s only for a brief moment. As writers we become heroes and anti-heroes. We are antagonists and protagonists. We laugh at our own musings and write moments which can change a world. We help the suffering and cause the oppression of the oppressed. Nothing beats it.

  14. the Bllu Room says:

    Hi Joe, Thanks for viewing my post “Sleep or Write?” I am very new to blogging and feeling my way through. I’ve read a few of your posts and I will definitely keep following your writing. It’s inspiring and thoughtful, and even better, helpful. It’s nice to feel part of the larger writing community out there. cheers! bllu

  15. Great post. I look forward to reading more. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  16. lucewriter says:

    Great post!

  17. I find that writing for children can be very difficult, words are limited, so is space and what you can say at different ages varies. I’m having a hard time completing a distant learning course In children’s literature. We all have that child within, but to capture that essence on paper without trying to lecture, takes skill. Thank you for the post and for visiting/ following my blog.

  18. Kaia Calhoun says:

    Thanks for following my blog! Love what you have going here, great look too ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Nice! I think to be able to write for children, one’s imagination has to be uber vivid! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Thanks for your visit…Another very good informative blog for writers! I will be bookmarking this site.

    I am mostly a non-professional poet. I hope one day to put together a book of the Elfje I have written with my own illustrations for children – especially since I now have a young grandchild. I have been writing for a long time. And I continue to do so everyday because I like to.

  21. You’ve shared very lovely tips that can aid with inspiration.
    Your concept is beautiful.
    Nice post!

  22. I really enjoyed this post. I hope it inspires a lot of people to simply embrace their inner child, whether they’re writing something or not ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. And this post confirms that I’m still 7 inside! Happy to read it! I love the way you write things!

  24. Wonderful tips! Thank you. =)

  25. I work in a museum in the UK; Seven Stories the National Centre for Children’s Books. We collect and preserve original manuscripts and illustrations from books from the 1930’s to the present day. It’s the most fun place to be with authors and illustrators visiting, story times all day and books everywhere. I haven’t read an adult novel in years, such is the variety and quality of children’s literature today. I think children and young adults want what their adult counterparts want; a good story well told.

  26. i love this post telling me exactly i am fine ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I’m so glad you found me, so I could find you. I love this post.

  28. Thanks for finding my post on zombies and losing my mind. Glad you liked it. Liking what I find here, too. Love this post.

  29. Wow! Thank you for your sharing. Very inspiring! ^_^

  30. sudebaker says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by and following my blog! Happy writing ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Thanks for liking my post. And i could found your post here.
    i love it!!

  32. Nice… “Life is more beautiful through the eyes of a child” …so true

  33. Thanks for visiting and following my blog! I’m finishing up a middle-grade MS, so I look forward to following yours!

  34. I think we’re in complete agreement here! Well said… ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Hi, Joe! Thanks for following my blog. I love this post and what you have to say here. Definitely going to return the favor.

  36. Love this post. For me, I’m firmly in the children’s writer category. I can’t imagine writing for adults, really. With writing for kids, I always feel like I’m free to go absolutely bonkers and have a lot of fun. I also read a lot more children’s books than grown up books and usually find the former less limited than the latter.

  37. You have made many valid points. While I don’t want to take anything away from it, there is the assumption that everyone had a “childhood”. So many of a child’s experiences you draw upon, were absent. Too many have been struggling just to survive. I have spent years working with abused children and their families and personal experience. Yet, those that survive can go on to write about their experience. You need not go any farther than Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes for an example. For many, writing is a catharsis that cannot be prescribed nor purchased. Getting clients to write about their experiences has often allowed them to put pieces together for a puzzle they were unaware of.
    Please forgive me if this seems critical of what you have offered as it is not meant to be. I do appreciate what I have read here.
    Thank you for choosing to follow both my blogs and I hope you continue to enjoy the posts. If you read back on the poetry blog, you will see examples of what I have been talking about.
    Best wishes with your wonderful blog.

    • Lea this is a great point that I overlooked. Many children (and adults) go through terrible situations or even a lifetime of hurt, sorrow and abuse. I like your example of Angela’s Ashes as this was one of my favorite books I read in grade school. You obviously have more experience in dealing with this than I have, but it seems that people, especially children who are forced into a life of uncertainty have the most compelling story to tell. And as you’ve pointed out, it serves as a form of therapy in order to put together the pieces of a confusing puzzle. Thanks for this feedback and I think I’m going to try and address this in a post.

      Thanks and best wishes!

  38. Excellent article! Children have amazing thoughts and we should all try to be so imaginative.
    Good luck with all your writing. You have quite a talent of expression.
    Thanks for liking my post and for now following my blog.

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  40. Love this post! I’m a children’s picture book author and I get to spend my days working as an aide with first graders. Not a day goes by when I’m not utterly delighted, refreshed and amused by their fresh, spontaneous outlook on life. I love my job, not only because the kids are fun, but because I get to share in the joys, sorrows and drama of being 6 again–which gives me such insight into who my readers are and provides me with endless picture book story ideas!

  41. Thanks for stopping by my site. This is a good article.

  42. time can also stand still thru a childs eyes a moment can last forever

    good article thank you and thank you for visiting my blog

  43. Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog and following me. I tell children’s stories (outloud ones) and when I create them, I always have in mind the adults as well. I think adults love to have complex ideas presented to them in a way that appeals to the child in them. Both levels of audience can be reached at the same time, and adults let their guard down when presented with a “children’s story”. I can get just as much participation from the adults as the kids. Writing for kids can be the same. In fact every time I read “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss I get all fired up and motivated. Such a simple way to have fun and learn as well. Thanks for this awesome site you have developed! Also like the videos.

  44. Thank you for this great post and for your encouraging “like” on my blog and for the following of same. I started writing children’s poetry and short stories over ten years ago, changed direction to inspirational; but still find myself loving to write for the little ones.

  45. I completely agree. There is so much we adults can learn by thinking a little more like kids. As a writer (and a person) I always want to keep my sense of curiosity, wonder and fresh amazement in the world. There is definitely much to be learned in life by playing and not being afraid to take risks.

    Thanks for following my blog!

  46. Funny thing. . . when I was a child, everyone said I was so “grown up.” Now I’m writing for children. No wonder I have difficulty thinking like a child, I’m beginning to wonder if I ever was one.

  47. How true: “Life is more beautiful through a child’s eyes.” Certainly more wondrous and entertaining and curiosity-inspiring! Thanks for this list of ways to be inspired by children as we write!

  48. Great article and so true! My two-year old makes me see things with new eyes! Thanks for visiting and following my blog!

  49. Lovely! Can be applied to so many things.

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