Writing about Childhood

If you would like to write about childhood–your children’s, or your own–here are some ideas for getting started.

1.  In your Kids’ Words.  Describe a recent development from your child’s point of view.

2.  Maintain a log — however short.  Essential raw material to fuel the rest of your writing lives.  Some writers pen journals into lock-and-key notebooks, others blog on the web. I use a Google Docs spreadsheet with one column for each child, and try to update it with a sentence or two a day–I save it to Google Docs so that the long distance grandparents can log in and comment. I plan to give my kids their journals as an 18th birthday gift (“Golly gosh, mum! I was hoping for a Vespa, but this is way more def!!”).  For now, it’s the best gift I could give myself as a mother/writer, and my safeguard against mom-nesia. Sample log.

3.   Record conversations.  Take out fifteen minutes a week to record a conversation that you had with your child–or that you overheard the child have with someone else.  These may be silly, serious, or even mondane.  Review your log every few months–what stories and poems suggest themselves?

4.   Photo-narratives.  Tell a story about a family vacation, a home baking project, or important development.  Picassa is great for putting slideshows together and adding captions.  To prove you don’t have to be a crack photographer, check out Dad’s Shoes & Puzzled.

5.  Family lexicon.  Keep a record of the words your family adds to the dictionary.  My favs include mom-nesia (can’t remember what it means), poolympics (from the nappy years) and timetable tetris (yes, I’m that old…).


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