Who Do You Write For?

A few weeks ago, I listened in on a Writing for Children Live teleseminar about picture book writing, presented by Marion Dane Bauer. The content of the seminar was excellent, and I went back and listened again the next day and took copious notes.

As I’ve reflected on the seminar over the last few weeks, one thing among her many wise and wonderful remarks stood out. She said:

Write for the child you once were. Reach inside yourself for the child who is still inside you, and write to give that child something that he or she needs.

Maybe this in a way, is a corollary to that old advice to ‘write what you know’ — this time it’s ‘write what you need.’

When I look at my writing, the most successful stories are the ones that have a specific audience that needs to hear them – either the child I once was, or the children my own kids are now. When I get away from the needs of that specific audience and start writing for “kids” in general, things begin to unravel. Those stories drift, lose focus, don’t seem to make a clear point. They’re not needed.

With Picture Book Idea Month coming up, I’ll be thinking more about that girl I once was and what she needs to hear.

What about you? Do you notice a recurring theme in your writing, maybe an echo of your childhood? Are you writing for someone specific when you write a story?

10 thoughts on “Who Do You Write For?

  1. Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe) says:

    Carrie! You have a blog! Why did I not know about this? This is very EXCITING! I’m sorry I missed your first posts, but I will go back and catch up. YAY!! I am now a follower.

    That advice got me a little teary, I must admit. I think, for children’s writers, it is so much truer than the simpler “Write what you know.” I thought immediately of this quirky little story about a quirky little girl that I’m kind of working on, and said, “yeah…that’s it.” Thank you for sharing that juicy morsel!

    Looking forward to having you on NWR next week. I’ll email you. 🙂

  2. Tina Cho says:

    Very cute picture of little Carrie, I assume! Thanks for sharing your thoughts from Ms. Bauer. Most of my stories are written either for my kids or because of something they did. I’ll have to dig into my childhood next!

  3. Mirka Breen says:

    I always write to the child I am. I have no illusions that it’s the child I was, because what I know of her is my ‘now version.’
    Hope that^ isn’t too confusing… Thank you for this post.

  4. Cathy Ballou Mealey says:

    Carrie – I so agree – it was a great teleseminar! I can’t recall how I had signed up for it, but I am certainly glad that I did. Write what you need, indeed.

    Great photo – somewhere in New Hampshire?

    • Carrie Finison says:

      Hi Cathy! I’m glad you heard that teleseminar, too. I wanted to listen in on her next one, too, but I missed it. I think the photo is in NH or maybe southern Maine? I’m not sure…my mom will know.

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