Posted in Before You Begin, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

Why Write?

why-1432955_640“We need to be honest, right from the start, about why we want to write for children. If we intend to moralise, teach a lesson, patronise, categorise, marginalise, or show off our own brilliance, we are doing it for the wrong reasons and we’ll need to reassess our motives. We are not writing academically de-constructible literature. Nor are we writing as therapy to eradicate our guilt about the world and what we have done to it.” – Mem Fox

The reasons why writers write are as varied as there are writers.  But the question you need to answer is why YOU want to write.  Following are some basic reasons to consider.

Because you . . .

. . . love books and the written word

“There’s a difference between getting money for what you do and doing it for money.  If you don’t do it for love, or because you think it needs doing, get out and let somebody else do it.  If nobody else does it, maybe that means it shouldn’t be done.” – Emma Bull

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.” – Robert Cormier

. . . enjoy reading

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” – J.D. Salinger

. . . have something to say

“The best books come from someplace deep inside…. Become emotionally involved. If you don’t care about your characters, your readers won’t either.” – Judy Blume

“I hope my books help children see some of the wonder in the world. I hope they show children that their own lives are rich material for storytelling.  But most of all I hope that through my books, children know that I believe in them–in their ability to learn and to reshape the world.” – Larry Dane Brimner

“The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or say a new thing in an old way.” – Richard Harding Davis

“Writing enables me to speak without being interrupted!” – Roberta Sandler

. . . have lots of ideas and a busy imagination

“I think ideas buzz about in the air like tiny mosquitoes. Many ‘land’ on you and get brushed aside. But it’s the ones that take a ‘bite’ out of you, the ones that really get into your blood that make you the most passionate about writing.” – Dian Curtis Regan

“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” – Linus Pauling

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

“Artistic creativity is a whirlpool of imagination that swirls in the depths of the mind.” – Robert Toth

. . . can’t not write

“I’m usually not inspired as much as driven to write. It’s something I feel compelled to do.” – Dotti Enderle

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” – Issac Asimov

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.  What one can be, one must be.” – Abraham Maslow

“Writing kept me sane when I was a stranger in a school or neighborhood. I’ve kept a diary since I was ten years old. It’s a place for my emotions to catch their breath; a portable fire escape, I guess.” – Mitali Perkins

“I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.” – Francoise Sagan

. . . desire fame or immortalization

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

“One should write to be read.” – Ken Macrorie

. . . not for the money!

“If writers were good businessmen, they’d have too much sense to be writers.” – Irwin S. Cobb


“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

“Everyone is different and that means that everyone is going to need to write a story in a different way. You have to discover how you need to do it. There is no easy way. You can only discover how to by doing it.” – Diana Wynne Jones

“Talent is way down on the list of things you need to write; it comes in a distant fourth, after persistence, motivation, and discipline. And the reason is that “talent” is as common as mud; what’s rare is the motivation to sit down and actually do something with it, the discipline to do it regularly, and the persistence to stick with it until it’s finished.” – Patricia Wrede

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When to Write?

“If you write only when excited or motivated, you’ll never finish.  You have to write even when it’s the last thing you want to do.  Just put something down.  You can always edit it later or even throw it out.” – Bob Mayer

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” – E.B. White

For me, the best time to write is scheduled time.  Twice a week, I meet other writer friends in a library where we each set up our laptops and work.  We have to be quiet in this setting, so aren’t so tempted to chat.  At lunch in a neighboring coffee shop, we talk, discuss problems in our individual manuscripts, then get back to work.

Do what works for your schedule, but commit to the time and don’t let something else preempt it.  Including the internet if you’re in a wifi friendly location!

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