The second post in my mini-series in which I use book titles as springboards to musings about writing was inspired by a glance at the cover of Leil Lowndes’ How to Instantly Connect with Anyone. This book’s “96 … little tricks for big success in relationships” has a great deal of useful information in it – but that’s not what I plan to write about today.
One of the most important connections a writer can make is the connection with the reader. This is especially true for people who write for kids.
We need to connect with children, learn what is exciting for them, learn what’s scary for them. We need to talk with them, play with them, read with them, be with them. We need to be in tune with the way they express themselves. I don’t mean the current slang, because using too much of that in a book is a sure way to make the book appear out of date very quickly. I mean that we need to connect with the way children see things, describe things, think about things – because it’s different from the way adults do those things. We need to connect with real children so that the children in our books seem real.
We also need to connect with the child we were. Within ourselves, sometimes buried deep under layers of adultness, are the emotions and thoughts of our own child-self. Sometimes it’s painful to get in touch with those emotions and thoughts, but then, sometimes it’s painful to be a child. To write honest and true stories (not factual, but true-to-life) we need to make that connection or re-connection with our own child-selves.
One of my writing colleagues, Alison Kipnis Hertz, has started posting daily writing starters, and the ones she posted on Friday and Saturday of the past week are perfect exercises for making the connection with your child-self. Go ahead, click on those days, and at least think about what her suggestions conjure up in your mind and heart.
Like touching two live wires together, a real connection between writer and child can make the writer’s work sizzle, spark, and give light.
How do you make the connection?