Summer’s here, schools out, and with that I am back to watching my boyfriend’s nephew during the day. He’s ten, turning eleven in July. He can be what you would call a reluctant reader. Video gaming is his preferred activity, and he always puts up a fight when I make him read a little bit everyday.
Last year I actually managed to conjoule him write a “book” with me. It takes a little bit of time, but once we start writing or we start talking ideas he does enjoy it. I promise I’m not torturing him. Anyway, it was five pages typed about this duo who has a lot of powers and like to solve crimes. The plot is all over the place, there’s virtually no description, and he’s convinced he writes better than J.K. Rowling.
Yesterday we started on book two. We managed to plan a plot line from the first book to continue on with, have a nice little mystery we will solve, and planned out two more books in the process. In terms of actual writing, we only got around two hundred words, or one page, down before he was tired and wanted to play Call of Duty. I call it a success. It took a bit more than an hour or so, and most of that was deciding on a font and switching the color to the perfect shade of blue.
I’ve written before about my troubles with self doubt when writing. I tried to do Camp NaNoWriMo this year, and failed epically. I didn’t even do the final update. Since then I haven’t written on that project at all. I’ve thought about it a lot, but that doesn’t equal words on the page which in turn doesn’t give me progress. I only write with Isis on the project we do together. I still haven’t finished those backstories I talked about. I’m basically where I was when I wrote that first post almost a year ago.
Writing with this ten-year-old, I couldn’t help but think that I could really learn from him. He doesn’t ever think about writing anything that other people would enjoy. He wrote it, so obviously it’s amazing, and other people will love it too. Whenever I try to describe the setting or the weather or a character’s description or action during dialogue he always asks, “Nicole, why are you writing that?”
He’s very simple and to the point. If the characters are searching a house for information, they go into the drawer and find it. They don’t search the whole house first. They simply know where to go, and they go do it. There’s no character development here. They need to go to the police as the ending? You write, “They went to the police and told them all they needed to know. Then they went home. The End.” I’m sure he would make that even simpler. There’s no editing. You never second your first thought, and the scene will simply change as you get tired of it or get a new idea.
And you know what? It’s the best time I’ve spent writing in a long while. When I’m writing, I usually have a ball of anxiety nearly suffocating me. I have so many worries and concerns. I agonize over every sentence. It takes me hours to write a three sentence paragraph. On a good day I might be able to write five hundred words. And I never leave my document satisfied. I’m never proud of what I write.
When writing with him, there’s never doubt. After every sentence there’s a compliment of how good it is. Every new idea is met with a high five or a hug. There’s a lot of jokes and laughter, and at the end there’s no doubt that what we wrote is the best thing ever.
It’s very freeing, and something I really want to take into writing my own novels. At least in the first draft. Seeing as I never get to a second draft with my own books, this could only help me out. I’m forever seeing authors advise people to first write for yourself, but I always find it hard to take their advice. There’s always a voice in the back of my head saying, “Yes. That’s good advice for real writers, but you aren’t a real writer.” There’s no doubt in this ten-year-old’s head that he’s a real writer and will be a best seller and he hates the idea of books and writing every other day.
Of course I don’t expect to write this, and have all my problems solved. But I do think I should think of this, and try to channel it more. It can’t hurt at least.