Reaching A Child’s Heart By Trusting Your Own by @wenmass plus a #Giveaway

MassW_book_001I hope you don’t mind taking a break from your regularly scheduled programing (ie: the craft of writing) for just this week. While considering how a writer might go about infusing their characters with heart, I couldn’t help thinking about how we have to remember to have it for ourselves first. If we want to convincingly create characters who believe in themselves enough to accomplish whatever their goals are within the story, we have to be their role models.

No matter where we are in our writing careers, so often we are (to borrow a phrase from Emerson) “… standing in our own sunshine”. We put ourselves down, we dwell on our failures, we downplay our accomplishments. I suppose there are writers out there who have loads of confidence and think everything they create is brilliant, but we must not hang in the same circles. The things we tell ourselves when something we write is rejected or gets a bad review is much harsher than what we would tell a friend if it happened to them. We would try to build our friend back up, insist they weren’t rejected, that the piece simply wasn’t a good match for that editor. We would remind them of all the rejection letters even the greatest writers got. We would convince them how they’ve gotten so much further than so many others who are still dreaming about putting pen to paper.

So be proud of all your hard work and fortify your heart against disappointment, against unsupportive friends or family who just might not “get” why you want to do this. Don’t ask for permission, because that might never come. Don’t be your own worst critic. There are plenty of others willing to take on that role (anonymous reviewers, I’m talkin’ to you), so rise above that and don’t help them along.

heartburstLet’s face it, we don’t write children’s books to become rich or famous. Our motivations run deeper than that. If you remind yourself why you want to dedicate your life to telling stories that could affect a child in ways you can’t imagine, it just might fill your heart to bursting. Then there will be no more room for negativity, only conviction and purpose.

Here are some reasons I came up with, but you will no doubt add your own. We write for the next generation because we were the kids reading under the covers with flashlights past bedtime and we remember what books meant to us when we were that age. I write out of gratitude for Narnia, for Margaret, for Charlotte and for Harriet, and each of us writes for the child in ourself. We write for our own kids to teach them what we wished we’d known. We write to entertain young readers, to make them laugh so that they’ll learn to laugh at themselves. We make them cry to teach them empathy. We show them adversity so they can learn to be strong. We pluck them from their lives and place them somewhere else, in the hopes that when they close the covers of the book they will come back to themselves stronger, with their minds open to new possibilities. We want to protect them and also challenge them. Writing for children is a big responsibility. By placing a story in their hands, your heart has reached their heart in a really tangible way. Your efforts have made a difference in their life. That’s the goal of the job, right? That’s why we do this. Well, that and getting to work in our pajamas all day.

For the exercise portion of this post, I’d like you to CHANNEL YOUR OWN INNER STUART SMALLEY/AL FRANKEN, look in the mirror and say, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Just kidding. Go treat yourself to a massage and some high quality chocolate before you sit back down to squeeze a little more of your heart onto the page. You deserve it.

MassW_headshotWendy Mass is the author of twenty books for young readers including Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, A Mango-Shaped Space, the Willow Falls series that began with 11 Birthdays, and the Space Taxi series which she co-writes with her husband, Mike. Her most recent is THE CANDYMAKERS AND THE GREAT CHOCOLATE CHASE, (out 8/2/16), which is the sequel to the New York Times bestseller, The Candymakers. She ate a lot of candy while writing those last two. She is currently on a cross-country RV trip where she offered her firstborn to the Ford dealer if he’d fix the air conditioning. He declined the kid, but the RV is nice and cool now. Visit her at wendymass.com, @wenmass on Twitter, and here on Facebook

If you are registered for Kidlit Summer School, you can download a worksheet of Wendy’s writing exercise at our Exercise Book. This is a password-protected area — only members allowed! Please check your email for the password.

GIVEAWAY! Wendy is kindly giving away a copy of  The Candymakers And The Great Chocolate Chase—hot off the presses! For a chance to win, please leave a comment below.

Don’t miss your chance to get perfect attendance! Leave a comment on this post within the first 24 hours. Moderators have to approve first-time commenters, so your comment may not show up immediately.

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176 comments on “Reaching A Child’s Heart By Trusting Your Own by @wenmass plus a #Giveaway

  1. bucklessclass says:

    This is something we all need to remind ourselves frequently! Thank you for this post and for saying it so well!! 😀

    Like

  2. Debbie Austin says:

    Thank you for this positive, affirming post. Off to have some chocolate! (I always do my homework.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kristen Browning says:

    Thanks for the inspirational post! So helpful to focus on your successes (no matter how small) and your reasons for writing rather than on the sometimes harsh realities of the business–and what they can do to your spirit. Write on!

    Like

  4. Andi Osiek says:

    What an uplifting post. I am, like many, my own worst critic, and it’s always nice to have the reminder that I need to give myself some credit. Thanks!

    Like

  5. Rachel Hamby says:

    Thank you, just what I needed before my LA conf. critique! 🙂

    Like

  6. Thanks for this post! It’s probably impossible to be vulnerable on the page while beating oneself up. Excellent reminder to be gentle to that inner writer. Very curious to see what your next Candymakers book will be like. My youngest was very intrigued by the mystery of the changing narrators in The Candymakers and made me read it. It was a pleasure.

    Like

  7. Mavis Penney says:

    Printing this Pep Talk to add to my bulletin board. Need good chocolate for my top drawer treat box. Thanks!

    Like

  8. Kim Chaffee says:

    An important reminder for all of us. Thank you for this post!

    Like

  9. Barbara Senenman says:

    Great post. Thank you.

    Like

  10. Aimee Haburjak says:

    Full of beautiful heart❤️
    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

    Like

  11. Patti says:

    Thank you for all that wonderful encouragement. My heart rings true to all you have stated. We must keep our hearts, for out of the heart flow the issues of life. May we bring that wonderful LIFE to a new generation. thank You…This was quite timely for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. writersideup says:

    You know, I can’t believe I didn’t read this yesterday. I went through my emails, but maybe somehow missed it ’cause I’ve been uncharacteristically distracted by the political arena! (Trust me, I’m NOT a political person.)

    Anyway, this post was overflowing with heart, and I just love the many things you listed as the “why we do this” reasons, Wendy. Just fantastic—and SO true! Coming from someone so successful at this, your words are more than inspiring and uplifting. Thank you 😀

    Like

  13. lmainnc says:

    What a great reminder of why we are doing this. Thank you.

    Like

  14. Everyone needs some inspiration. Thanks!

    Like

  15. Wendy, thank you for your uplifting post that speaks to my own reasons for spending fifteen years getting my first children’s novel finally into their hands. As a children’s librarian, I also want to say THANK YOU for writing all the uplifting novels that the girls in my library can’t get enough of. They LOVE your books with the passion that I loved Narnia and Charlotte and all the others you mentioned as well. Good work, Wendy!

    Like

  16. Lotus Ivak says:

    Thank you Wendy!

    Like

  17. janebuttery says:

    Wendy, I’m glad this came up again as i couldn’t get it to work earlier in the week. I was delighted to see your emphasis on ‘being proud ‘of what we have accomplished. i know that i fear rejection and I need to try to publish through another company other than the one I’ve developed. I keep finding excuses and you have shown me the right way. I love your words:-” We want to protect them (children) and also challenge them. Writing for children is a big responsibility. By placing a story in their hands, your heart has reached their heart in a really tangible way.” Thank you for putting it so beautifully.

    Like

  18. donnacangelosi says:

    Thank you for this heartfelt post, Wendy! I especially love the idea of being a role model for our characters.

    Like

  19. Nicola Tapson says:

    Thank you for highlighting the fact that we should not get down on ourselves so harshly. I think this is an often missed thought most writers indulge in. We should love ourselves and spread that love through the books we write.

    Like

  20. mkresk says:

    This is the best post yet of the season. Thanks for this. I needed it today!

    Like

  21. ericaanne2000 says:

    You’re absolutely right, I’d never let a friend give up the way I want to every day. This process terrifies me and yet I keep coming back like a ship to shore. Thank you for speaking on the human level.

    Like

  22. Dawn says:

    This post is right on time. We can be our own worst critics. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Like

  23. Leah Heilman Schanke says:

    Wow. I needed that. Thank you for a beautifully written, uplifting post.

    Like

  24. Lauri Meyers says:

    A spoonful of self-confidence with a side of chocolate. Love it!

    Like

  25. Thank you for the giveaway and for the reminder to believe in ourselves.

    Like

  26. angelcat2014 says:

    Thank you for the gentle reminder. I agree it is always a good idea to ask ourselves why we started writing – where our heart is, that’s what makes a story matter and memorable. 🙂

    Like

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