The Writer's Dilemma
I went recently to hear a discussion by a well-known, local writer. When I got a chance to chat with him, he asked the usual questions of “What’s your genre?” and “Do you write every day?” (His emphasis) I have seen his reaction to both his questions before.
Somehow, far too many authors who write for adults give the impression that those of us who write for children aren’t on the equal plane. I beg to differ. Adult writers write for adults under the assumption that they can read what you have put on paper and there is an interest based on genre choice, i.e., mystery, historical fiction, etc. This is not the case for writing for children. We can’t assume anything.
My first book is for birth through pre-school. Parents, most likely, choose this book because they want to reinforce the fact that their children are special. This is the theme of the story, “Fiona and the Extra Special Invisible Gifts”. It was my choice to also make this story inclusive so that every child can believe they can be and have friends without exception.
My second book is for ages 4-7 and is an “easy-reader chapter book.” I wrote this to help children who are just learning to read and to introduce the concept of chapters where different things happen at different times in the story all while keeping the interest of a fairly new reader in this age group. I have received great feedback that once they master most of the words of this story, they love to read it out loud to younger siblings and parents. It was purposefully done this way to help children grow their reading level, vocabulary, and sense of confidence in “Who Found Who?”
I was compelled to write the third book for “tweens” (approximately ages 9-14) when COVID started to make shut-ins of us all. As a retired Therapist, I knew that this age group would struggle the most from losing daily contact with their peer group and, maybe more importantly, being forced to spend 24/7 with their family. Parents had to balance work-from-home (assuming they still had it) while kids were bored and cranky. This was tough all the way around. I don’t have to tell you about the stress. “Tweens,” biologically, were experiencing daily changes in their bodies, brains, and emotions, literally. “You Can’t Make Me! Only I can change how I feel!” was written with 11 chapters to address 10 emotions and other scenarios through anecdotal examples. I also give them the opportunity to journal with prompts on how they can make decisions and changes that work better over time. Self-reflection was the goal of this book.
Each one of my books undergoes scrutiny through a computer program designed to find the best language for the grade and age group. I also use a really good children’s book editor because we sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees. I am very open to utilizing all available sources to strengthen my work for the children I write for.
Now, let me tackle the other author’s second question about daily writing. My answer was, “No I don’t.” There is a theory that you are either a “plotter” or a “pantser” in the writer’s world. A “plotter” is the disciplined one who forces themselves to sit and write X-# of hours or words/day. They plot out their time, characters, scenes, etc. If this works for him/them, all well and good. It’s all about discipline.
Me, I’m a “pantser”. I fly by the seat of my pants as inspiration, research, or any number of thoughts get me to the computer. It works for me. That thought that creeps in during sleep, the research tidbit that just revealed itself, etc. You get the picture, I’m sure.
I’m retired. I don’t live by anyone else’s rules. I am the only one to impose “rules” or goals and timeframes. It works for me! No dilemma here! If you think you have a children’s story in you, put it on paper. When you think it’s done let it marinate for a week or two. Then, go back and read it again. When you are happy with it, ask someone you trust to read it and be prepared for feedback. Then, let a child hear it or read it and get their feedback. You may be on to something! Go for it! You get to decide if you are a “plotter” or “pantser.”
Don't hesitate to give me feedback. I'd love to hear from you.
Have a wonder-filled May with all the month brings! Oh, and start thinking about a summer reading list for the Kiddos. They might not even realize they are learning!
Halina Schafer, Author