I was over thirty when I wrote my first book. I’d written short stories, poetry, and articles. I’d even had some of them published. But I didn’t write the last sentence of my first book until I was over thirty.
Everyone says ‘to write, you must read’, and I agree wholeheartedly. But my daughter did things a little differently.
My daughter was four and a half when she wrote her first book. Here she is with that page-turning drama, ‘Up and Away‘. It’s a charming tale about a princess who travels across the world in a hot air balloon looking for friends.
Look at her smile! She just might have been the happiest kid on the planet that day.
Since then, her writing career has spanned almost two years and she’s written a whole slew of books.
Books about firemen, ponies, fairies and potato witches (nasty creatures!). She’s even written a non-fiction book about bugs, complete with pictures about what each bug likes to eat.
When she first began writing, she could only draw pictures. It took a week for her to decide pictures alone weren’t enough. I’m not sure how many evenings we spent while she dictated the story to me and I helped her to write it, one word after the other. Within a few months, she was adding her own words without help (we didn’t even discuss copy editors!). If you were hoping to snag one of these early copies, I have to say we called dibs on them first. As for future works, well . . . her initial writing period ended this past winter.
You see, she’s discovered something new. She can read much better now and a thousand worlds have opened up for her. She’s devouring every book I can find for her and discovering what happens when Daisy Dawson talks to animals, not to mention what’s inside the magic tree house each day. We’ve even begun reading our books to her. Last month, every night before bedtime we read 3-5 pages from Naomi Novik’s book His Majesty’s Dragon. While she’s reading, she’s soaking up worlds, cultures, characters and stories. Eventually, she’ll use this wonderful ability to study whatever her heart leads her to. For now, she’s learning about the possibilities of life. She’s learning about situations and reactions. She’s learning about friendship.
I’m not sure if she’s put aside her writing days forever, or if she’ll come back to them throughout her life. Maybe one day I’ll be looking for something in her room and stumble across a dozen journals during the middle school years filled with the chattering thoughts of a tween, or I’ll be cheering from the stands when she wins a poetry prize in high school.
Or . . . maybe she’ll move on to something else.
Whether she comes back to it or not, writing has taught her just as much, if not more, than reading has.
She has learned to have confidence in her own abilities.
She has learned how to persevere–how to keep going until she completed what she set out to do.
She has learned about having the courage to expose her thoughts and ideas to others.
She has learned about happiness and emotions each time she imagined her characters’ feelings.
She has learned about imagination and that anything, including a potato witch, is possible.
She has learned about the power of words to not only create things, but to touch a heart when she watched the expressions of those who read them.
Writing taught her to dare to do something, even if no one else ever saw it.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, she has learned how to chase a dream.
Don’t we all learn the same things when we write?
4 thoughts on “What Writing Teaches Us”
What great fun she must have had! I think it’s awesome that you helped her write as she dictated early on and now as she’s older with reading and learning new ways to express herself. Excellent point that writing can be just as helpful as reading–as Austin Kleon said in Show Your Work, “The only way to find your voice is to use it”
You know, she did have a ton of fun and I think that’s the most important thing. We tend to put such pressure on kids, yet when they explore their natural interests in their own way, they learn so much. I haven’t read Show Your Work, but the quote sounds perfect!
I know, right? She’s written more books than many authors! When she was little, I spent hours and hours singing to her and reading to her. We chatted about everything, constantly, and I’ve always wondered if that had an impact. Or maybe she’s just inherited our love for books =).
Wow amazing how much she has written and still so Young!!!
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