Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Parenting Your Writing

by Hannah

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.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget honesty--also a requirement for both parenting and writing. Especially parenting teens, who can tell when you're faking it from a mile away.

Larramie said...

Lynne's book is based on universal truths that can be applied to almost anything. How nice to get back to basics.

Lisa said...

"If you can predict, you can prepare" is such a great thought to keep in the forefront of so many things. I can see so many parallels between the parenting and writing too -- things we know we should do and become undisciplined about ourselves. The more I learn about craft, the more I can predict what kind of feedback I'll get on an excerpt for my workshop. Sometimes it's easy enough to predict and prepare and sometimes, preparation is a long term ongoing process, isn't it?

Sustenance Scout said...

"Insightful preparation and skilled delivery." One to tape on the fridge (and the computer, and the alarm clock...!). The past week's posts on Lynne's books are treasures. What a testament to friendship and writing groups that really work. I'm a writer and a parent and I'm eager to read Negotiation Generation. Kudos to Lynne...and congratulations to all of you! K.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

I truly want to print up "What Would Lynne Do?" bumperstickers. When her book tour hits high gear, don't be surprised to see one on a passing car!


Lynne Reeves Griffin said...


You are so funny! I wonder what my husband and children would think of such a bumper sticker. As it is my son claims I use the word proactive more than any other in the dictionary.

Seriously, thank you all for your kind words.