What Children Can Teach Us About Writing

I've been visiting schools, libraries and festivals since 1996 when my first book was published. Over the years I've talked to thousands of children about books and writing. I've also given many writing workshops to children of all ages and this is what I've discovered:1/ Children are not afraid of making mistakes - if their story isn't going well they'll just shrug and start another story, no big deal. They never worry about looking stupid on paper or getting it 'wrong'. 2/ Children love creating big, funny, unusual characters - because their books are full of larger than life characters - think of Matilda, Mr Gum, Artemis Fowl, Tracy Beaker and Skulduggery Pleasant. They know when it comes to characters, BIG is good. 3/ Children understand that stories have to be exciting, fast, funny and full of emotion (and explosions in the case of boys - maybe slightly too many explosions!). 4/ Children don't get too hung up about grammar or spelling, they just keep writing. They know they can correct that stuff later. 5/ Children write 'cos they love to write, not because they want to get published/show off to the neighbours/make a million like that Harry Potter lady. 6/ Children believe that everyone has the right to write. 7/ Children don't twist themselves up in knots about genre. If zombies appear half way through their romance, then cool, it's a zombie romance! 8/ Children write for themselves, plain and simple, and because it's fun. (However they ARE very fond of ending their stories with 'and I woke up and it was all a dream'!)

And finally they never, ever finish a book they are not enjoying. They would never say 'I spent good money on that book so I'm going to finish it' or 'It's for my book club, I have to get to the end' - they think that's crazy behaviour! We have a lot to learn from these smart kids! (But I woudn't recommend the 'I woke up and it was all a dream' ending!)

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX