Blog Where to find inspiration, an exclusive guest blog from author Dan Smith
As an author of books for young readers, a big part of my job is visiting schools and meeting those readers. But school visits are terrifying. For one thing, I never know how the children will react to me. Will they listen with interest? Will they have lots of questions? Will they be lively and engaged? Or will I bore the pants off them? Hopefully, I won’t bore the pants off them. Please don’t let me be boring!
And if we’re doing a workshop, I worry that I won’t be able to inspire the children. I won’t be able to help them with their writing. It won’t be fun.
So, yes, school visits are terrifying.
But school visits are also amazing. It’s a huge privilege to speak to the children and share my thoughts and ideas. And there’s nothing better than listening to them get excited about stories and wanting to share them with me. Because stories are an important aspect of our lives. They’re not just a way to entertain ourselves, but a way to share ideas, express our worries, and to understand each other. We need stories.
Most of all, though, school visits are inspiring. For me. The children I meet inspire me. When I hear their ideas and see their enthusiasm for my stories, it’s like being given a huge shot of motivation. Meeting those eager young readers makes me want to write more stories for them so that I can keep visiting them, and keep seeing the excitement in their eyes.
And sometimes they even give me the spark of an idea. Like the student, several years ago, who asked me, ‘Why do none of your books have a girl as the main character?’ There wasn’t a good reason for it, so I went away and wrote one. Mind you, a student at the same school asked me if I could do a back-flip, but I still can’t do one of those. I didn’t even bother to try; I know my limitations.
It’s always tricky to give writing tips because different things work for different writers. There are just SO MANY tips to give. But here is a handful of things that work for me.