Parenting. Writing. Frighteningly alike, in my opinion. Families pick up certain titles, writers pick up how-to’s. We copy, we try to make it our own. The masters of each discipline learn to improvise, to work free-form. With the rules yet around the rules. How do they do it?
I think, to some degree, they find rules that are malleable to the moment, that work time and time again, that prepare us for anything. How many of us have been there:
Mom, everyone else is going.
Craft these ten words into a first paragraph. We’ll all share in five minutes.
Things I learn about writing apply in odd ways to other parts of my life. And I find that in odd ways, things I learn about parenting apply to writing.
If you read this blog, you know that Lynne has written a truly fabulous parenting book, Negotiation Generation. If I may take the liberty, here are a couple of key points that are surprisingly universal about the Negotiation Generation (aka the parents, not the children!).
We tell when we should show. We assume there are skills when skills haven’t been mastered. We ramble when we should be silent. Hmm. Sound already like any other discipline you know?
What we should do, and often don’t, is to prepare with intention, so when the time comes we can put our best out there and let our best do the work. We need to know what is likely to come our way and make sure the knowledge is solid, so that the action we take is effective.
We all know those moments will come: that in-class exercise, that opportunity to show someone a first chapter, or eventually, an entire manuscript. If you can predict, you can prepare. If you read Negotiation Generation, you will find a surprising number of moments in your life to ask yourself one simple question: What Would Lynne Do?
The answer? Follow through with insightful preparation and skilled delivery. You might just find your challenges simplified. I know I have.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007