It goes without saying that there is a vast difference between writing for adults and writing for children. Additionally, the category ‘children’ is just as broad, spanning board books, picture books, chapter books, young adult, non fiction and everything in between. So why, after spending five years writing a novel for the adult market, have I suddenly decided to make the switch?
There are a number of reasons that led me here, so let’s get into it.
Going back to writing, period.
Back in 2014 when I started my first full-time job as a graphic designer, I started writing alongside my twin sister (Heather at Twincreatives) with the goal of writing and publishing a contemporary love story. I wrote pretty consistently and managed to get 90 000 words of the first draft. The problem was I began to fall out of love with the story. I loved the characters (and still do), but there was a gaping plot hole and a stumbling block that I just couldn’t get past. I knew in the back of my mind that if I couldn’t love this story, I couldn’t expect anyone else to. At the same time I began to struggle with it, my life circumstances changed and with them, my priorities.
Truth be told I took a hiatus from writing which lasted a good couple of years, and honestly, I have no regrets. Being a firm believer in everything happening at the right time, it was clear that I needed a break. This space gave me the time to realise other dreams I had – I am currently now training to become a counsellor – and to do all that other life-affirming stuff like buy a house and get guinea pigs.
Fast forward two years and, although still not writing again, I was a solid member of a writing group formed with my twinny and a couple of writing friends. I did lots of proof-reading their work, as well as inspiration searching for my own story on a desperate hunt for the one idea. After plenty of okay ideas, but none that forced me into writing them, being intuitively astute I decided that the worst thing I could do was force it. Again I let the dream go and surrendered it to the universe.
Fast forward another year to the present (ish) moment, finally the time is right. Creative ideas are freely flowing, I have the desire and motivation back in full force, and plain and simply, it’s what I WANT. However, the dream has shifted and changed shape into something that I hadn’t even considered five years ago when I begun this journey.
So, why children’s books?
So, there is the (possibly boring and rather long-winded) story of why I stopped writing and why I started it again. But why did I choose to start writing for children, after never having had the desire to before, and having little experience with children other than those in the family or friends?
For me it was 90% intuition and gut instinct and 10% logic.
It’s where my creativity is right now
In reference to my intuition, over the course of a couple of months, a story that I read as a child called The Fairy Rebel kept popping into my mind. It was odd that I remembered its name and even the visual description of the main character – a fairy with vivid pink hair – and this was truly a testament to the strong character and memorable story that branded itself into my brain. In my experience with intuition, if a thought is relentless and won’t go away, it should be listened to. So I honoured this and bought myself a copy of the book and read it for the second time, nearly twenty years later. I enjoyed it just as much and from there decided to write my own fairy story.
So, the switch was pretty organic. I had a story I wanted to tell and it happened to be a children’s book. Obviously, it wasn’t as simple to just say it was going to be a children’s book, because as aforementioned, there are multiple further decisions to be made – I still needed to decide whether it would be a picture book, YA or chapter. (Read here about how I came to this decision if you are interested.) But, the seed was sown. I had the embers of an idea, and I was going to give this whole writing a book thing another whirl.
Since then, I’ve started my fairy story – a Rainbow Magic meets Beast Quest chapter book for 8–12’s, and in a similar intuitive process, I have written two picture books (Rainbow Moon Dog in Space, and Chish and Fip and the Naughty Seagull). I am also feeling incredibly inspired with all sorts of new and somewhat crazy creative ideas for further stories that are just waiting to be released.
This is not to say that writing for adults isn’t, but there is certainly a different type of fun that comes with writing for kids.
For someone who is oftentimes very rational and logical, I’ve found that connecting with my inner child has been cathartic in many ways. It has pushed me to be more curious, mindful and look at things in a different way. Stepping into the mindset of a child also provides a welcome relief from the daily grind of adult responsibility. I don’t know about you but I would rather spend half an hour chasing a load of Bog-A-Logs through space than sweeping up guinea pig poo, even if they do look a little like chocolate jelly beans.
Practically it works for me
In reference to the 10% logic part of my decision, working full-time, studying part time, running a household and doing some voluntary work has meant my life is pretty full and time and brain space is in short supply.
The thought of writing a 100k draft of an adult novel seems overwhelming right now. But I still have the passion and desire to write and publish and it’s not something I want to give up again. Even if I end up writing 10 shorter stories at 10k each, that somehow seems more doable – I know, crazy right?
Furthermore, being creatively inclined and competent in the world of graphic design, typography and illustration, I can’t believe that the thoughts of writing and illustrating a picture book hasn’t crossed my mind sooner.