5 Writing Tips I Learned From My 2 Year Old

I don't know if you know this, but apparently when you take a baby home you are legally obligated at some point in its life to write a sickeningly sweet philosophical post on "life lessons" you've learned from said baby.

Don't believe me?  Then clearly you have not been on a parenting/website blog recently.

So, in order to fulfill my contractual obligation as a parent (it was in the fine print), here is my sappy post.  At least it's writing related.

5 Writing Tips I Learned From My 2 Year Old
  1. Never Be Afraid to Experiment -- My child will draw on anything, and we as writers should be willing to at least consider every writing idea that pops into our heads, no matter how ludicrous it may seem.  After all, futuristic Roman gladiator games sounds kind of silly, but no one is going to argue with the success of The Hunger Games.
  2. Never Be Afraid of Failure -- Because frankly, you can't ever entirely fail.  As my child practices at writing and drawing he constantly improves.  (Yes, I have a freakish child that with no prompting from me likes to try to draw letters.)  He has mastered the O and I and almost has a recognizable A.  And just like him, your writing improves both with every rewrite and in general as you practice it more.  Eventually, you will have that idea that works.
  3. Take as Many Breaks As You Need, But Finish Your Task Eventually -- This is true of not only attention span challenged toddlers, but us adults as well.  Sometimes we become so frustrated or hungry or tired or whatever that we need to briefly step back from a project and get some space.  This is fine, but at some point you have to come back and finish up.
  4. Do Not Judge Yourself By Other People's Measuring Sticks -- For various reasons (including a brief period of partial deafness and a "by-myself" independence streak) my toddler has a serious speech delay.  Other people's response to this range from condescending worry (from other parents who have decided my child is autistic -- he's not according to the various doctors/specialists) to complete unconcern (from his doctors and speech therapist who say he'll talk sometime before 5.  5!).  The point of this is that you have to define your own measures of success.  For some author success only comes after a certain advance or when they reach a certain level of sales.  For others, success is finishing a manuscript.  You have to decide for yourself otherwise you will drive yourself crazy trying to meet everyone else's (differing) expectations.
  5. Praise is Great Fun, But No One Appreciates a Tantrum in Response to Negative Feedback -- This is pretty self-explanatory.  We all like being told our stuff is good, but when we are told our stuff is not working, pouting or throwing a tantrum is not productive and often inappropriate.  You don't have to take every piece of advice you receive, but you should at least objectively consider it.


Kai said...

I love #4! Thanks for the reminder on all of these. And as a mother of four, you'll likely create more than one of these posts ;-)

The Buried Editor said...

I kind of think #4 is both the most important to keep in mind and the hardest to follow. It's so tempting to want to consider myself a failure because my book has sold far only sold one paying copy and Harry Potter has sold billions. But of course, the two aren't even kind of comparable (mine isn't even a midgrade fantasy for starters) and I haven't had the marketing budget (or even started the marketing) that a Harry Potter book 7 gets.

Still, it's hard not to judge.

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha, ha. Love it!!!

Ben said...

We have a lot to learn from kids when it comes to creativity. They do art for the right reason, because they can. Cool reminder.

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Jennifer K. Hale said...

I have a 2 year old--great wisdom here! :)