Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Words of encouragement

I have read of several writing parents entrusting their children with the task of somehow or another encouraging them to write every day. One mother's son went so far as to hang a sign that asks "Have you written today?" over her desk.

It's a plus that writing parents have these litle nudges to write coming from their offspring. If there's one thing all writers need, it's support from their loved ones. And the encouragement to indulge in their love of writing.

That encouragement is something I received from my 7-year-old daughter today.

At storytime, I read to her a book titled Turtle Dreams by Marion Dane Bauer and Diane Dawson Hearn
. When I finished reading it, I said, "That's so cute. You know, I was going to write a story about a turtle one time."

All of a sudden, my daughter started excitedly bouncing up and down on the couch. "Write it now! Write it now!" she cheered.

"But I lost my notes," I protested.

"Write it now! Write it now!" she repeated. Wow, this kid needs to be within earshot of every single procrastinating writer. Haha.

Almost laughing, I said, "Okay. I'll try to remember my notes."


So I grabbed my notebook, grabbed my pen, then sat down at the desk. But before I could start writing the story, I had to try to remember the notes I had made for it so long ago. I never wrote the story because the theme was too similar to a popular children's book already published. But I had to think of a way to make my story different, especially since I had a young reader waiting for it.

I started writing down what I could remember of my notes but I ended up asking my daughter for help. What I needed was a list of animals I would be using in this story. And it ended up being a fun exercise working with her and asking, "What kind of animal is like this or that?" I know I can always Google it. But interacting with her and testing her knowledge of animals was more fun! (I made a mental note to thank her in the Acknowledgments.)

That done, I wrote the story. I wasn't happy with how I worded the beginning (it was all wrong, wrong, wrong!), but this was the first draft. I could fix that later. The goal here was to get the story down. Just get it all onto paper and written down.

And despite getting a writer's cramp and my fingers getting numb, I was able to do just that. Woo-hoo!

I didn't have a title for this story, but my daughter wanted to hear it, anyway. "I love your stories!" she gushed as we sat down to read it.

I smiled and thanked her for the compliment. I told her how much I appreciated her saying that, all the while thinking, 'Gee, if only a publisher or agent would tell me the same thing.'

So I read the story to her. At the end, she smiled, clapped and said she liked it. Then she actually had an idea for a title. And the title she suggested was actually a pretty good one, too. I was overwhelmed.

And grateful for her encouragement. How wonderful for a writing parent to have gentle words of encouragement to write coming from their child, let alone a child they can also receive title ideas from.

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