How to get better at writing children’s literature via practice writing.
Practice Writing Children’s Literature
If you want to write well, write often.
Writers talk about writing every day. Some do and some don’t, however, the more often you practice writing, the easier it will be.
Writing is like any other talent – it must be developed. With enough practice, those who aren’t initially naturally skilled at writing can improve their stories, articles, and poems. Those who are ‘naturals’ will of course get better.
What does it mean to practice writing?
If you were leaning to play trombone or piano, you’d spend time every day with your instrument, becoming more familiar with it, learning to play easily and fluently. You would become one with your instrument. You’d eventually be able to immediately know what it means to play in the key of A minor or B. You wouldn’t have to ask someone for help, look the notes up in a book, or in any other way remind yourself of how to do it, because you would have practiced so much it would be part of you. Just as you know how to recite the alphabet, you’d be able to play anything you desired on your instrument.
Writers can do the same. We can become so at ease with the skills involved in writing that it takes no particular effort to craft literary masterpieces. With enough writing practice we can comfortably create a story on almost any topic, or an article that expresses everything we’ve learned on a given issue.
How to practice writing
Most writers enjoy writing to a prompt. One writer’s club I participated in assigned a word at the end of every monthly meeting. At the next meeting, anyone who wrote something with that word in mind could stand up and read it.
Writing a story once a month is a wonderful thing, but wouldn’t it be better to write a new story every day? Daily writing practice could also include prompts. There are lists of words or phrases that could be used for prompts, like this one: 365 Writing Prompts for Creative Writing Inspiration.
If you use a daily writing prompt, try writing everything in a notebook and by hand so later you’ll be able to see your improvement over a period of time. There is magic in the mind/hand/pen/notebook connection so experiment with that, and compare your handwritten compositions with those you write using keyboard and computer. You may find that writing a first draft by hand benefits your descriptive abilities or some other aspect of your prose.
When I do daily practice writing I usually take no more than about fifteen minutes to set down my story – usually flash fiction – or a poem or article. Sometimes what I write simply doesn’t work as a complete story. At other times I write something I feel has merit. Later it can be typed and developed, revised, and perfected. Good stories, poems, and articles often start as practice writing to a prompt.
It can be fun to share practice writing with a friend. If you have a friend who likes to write, invite him or her to meet you at a local café or coffee shop for a writing session. Bring notebooks to write by hand, or if you’re in a coffeehouse environment where it is acceptable, bring your laptops or other electronic writing devices. I like to use an Alphasmart Neo.
Choose a word, set a timer for fifteen minutes, and write to your chosen prompt. When you’re done, share with your friend (don’t be shy about what you wrote) and then do it again for as long as the two of you are still having fun.
How to know if your practice writing is worth publication
It helps to wait six months before re-reading your practice stories, poems, and articles. By that time you will have forgotten your initial pleasure or displeasure with a piece. As a more impartial observer you’re better able to judge the worth of what you wrote. When you re-read you’ll immediately see how some stories don’t work, but some do. Earmark the pieces you like and type them when you can. You’ll have plenty to choose from.
The more you practice writing, the better you’ll get at it. This is inevitable. Even if right now you feel empty, talentless, and hopeless about writing for children, it is certain that if you practice every day for months, you’re going to become a better writer, craft some outstanding stories, and have a good time doing it.