Recapturing the joy of writing as a kid

Many adults have lost the joy they felt writing as children. Here are some suggestions on how to bring it back.

A child's drawing of a happy sun.

A lot of writers started writing as kids. We loved to read, so we decided to make our own stories.

Some of our stories were written and illustrated in crayon in stapled-together booklets. Some were written in stiffly adult cursive in pink lockable diaries. And some were typed in obsolete word processing programs in which documents could never be longer than 13 pages.

Writing when you’re six or ten or thirteen is a joyous activity. Characters and their magnificent struggles swirl through your head and every word that comes out is a diamond.

But at some point the magic fades.

You agonise, you doubt yourself. You pack away the crayons.

Grown-ups aren’t better at everything. So get your crayons back out and remember the fun you had writing (or might have had writing) as a kid.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Child's drawing of a kind of scary looking ladybird
Then a giant killer ladybird attacked.

Draw your characters

You don’t have to be a great artist to get out a pencil and a piece of paper and draw portraits of your main characters.

This one is even better if you do it inside a tent or blanket fort while eating juice ice cubes with pieces of orange frozen in them.

Epically illustrate your big scenes with stick figure art

That battle between the dragon and the squad of unicorn riders? Epic!

Get out your pencil and draw the scene. The stick figures of a hundred riders might take a while, but they will be worth it.

You don’t need to be able to draw. If you’ve been around a while, you’ve seen my dragons.

A big dragon sniffing the nose of a tiny dragon.
Here there be dragons, one of which might be a pig.

(Yes, my book has big dragons that breathe fire and little dragons that are basically scaly cats.)

Make up a song about your plot

No musical talent required.

Just pick your favourite dinky tune and substitute in your own words. My favourite is the “A legend is sung…” song from the start of The Sword in the Stone (1963). Nothing makes your story feel epic like calling it a legend.

Then sing the song to your goldfish. It will look amazed.

Write with a friend who gushes over every page

I used to write next to my sister, and every half hour we’d swap and read each other’s story.

The point wasn’t to critique, just to gush about how exciting it was. There’s nothing like positive feedback in real time to give you the motivation to keep typing.

Maybe you don’t live with another writer, but the invention of this interweb thing has made that unnecessary. Zoom a friend or find a group that meets online to write. You’ve got this.

Keep moving

When you sit down to write for too long, all your blood gets stuck in your feet, leaving none for your brain. The remedy is to get up every hour and do some handstands.*

* No, this is not scientific fact. It’s not any sort of fact. But sitting down too much is bad for you.

If handstands aren’t your thing, try cartwheels. Or shake the blood back up by jumping on a trampoline, a couch, or a bed.

As kids, we knew this. Tap into that forgotten wisdom.

A man doing a handstand on the beach.
Shake that blood back to your head so you can keep writing.

Marvel at the wonder you’re creating

Writing isn’t always easy, but it’s not supposed to be. You’re creating an entire universe from nothing–there are bound to be some birthing pains.

But remember you’re creating an *entire universe* *from nothing*.

Those characters! They never existed until you gave them life. That oak that provides shade for an entire colony of porcu-rabbits! Less than an acorn until you nurtured it with nothing but your will.

You’ve made cities, star-crossed lovers, enchanted potato mashers, and magical aether ants.

Don’t forget to take a minute to marvel at all this glorious stuff. Just don’t step on the ants.

Did you do particular things as a child to make writing more fun? Are there any you could do now to bring back some of that fun?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

6 thoughts on “Recapturing the joy of writing as a kid”

  1. “Donโ€™t forget to take a minute to marvel at all this glorious stuff.”

    I love this so much. It’s so easy to lose sight of that big picture, that we’re working *magic* here. This is a lovely reminder. Thank you โค๏ธ

  2. Maps were my thing as a kid.
    Tolkien-style maps, contour maps, maps of towns and villages, you name it, I drew it. I imagined many stories that took place in those locations shown on the maps I drew, and write a few notes here and there, and a few short stories (which honestly are so full of tropes and cliches it’s hard to see the actual story!).

    1. Yes! I loved making maps too. Some of them even had rivers that flowed downhill. ๐Ÿ™‚ As soon as I marked the location of an isolated mountain village I wanted to tell stories about it.

  3. As a Tolkien-obsessed tweenager, I had an entire table set up in my room covered with my magical potions (made with water and food coloring) stored in every cool-looking, cast-out old bottle I could find.

    Maybe I need to do that again.

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