I am super excited to welcome contemporary romance author Jamie Farrell to the blog today! I adore her books as well as her fun blog posts about her children. I was lucky enough to meet Jamie in person for lunch once and she is just as fun in person! Take it away, Jamie…
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Five Things My Children Have Taught Me About Writing
Today, I’d like to talk to you about writing. Specifically, about things my children have taught me about writing and storytelling. If you follow my blog or Facebook page, you probably already know I have three crazy kids who keep me hopping. But if not, allow me to tell you a little about Munchkin (6), Squeaker (4), and Buttercup (2 going on 27).
I’ve been writing since before they were born, but it occurred to me recently that they’ve taught me a good bit about how to write a story. Including…
- You have to be flexible.
Just like kids will sometimes decide they hate the same peanut butter and jelly sandwiches they’ve demanded for lunch every day for the last five hundred days, sometimes the characters I think I’m controlling will have other ideas of what their story needs.
And most of the time, they’re right. (Except you, Mikey. Your story did not need a girl jumping out of an ice cream cake.)
- You have to be creative
My kids love the word “pretend.” A normal evening conversation tends to go like this:
Munchkin: “Squeaker, pretend we’re mermaids in a lava pit and this rubber band is our dad. Say hi to Dad, Squeaker.”
Squeaker: “Hi, Dad. Munchkin, say ‘Aaaahhh! We’re drowning!’”
Munchkin: “Aaaaahh! We’re drowning! Squeaker, grab that play sushi. It can be our raft.”
Me: “You guys are both going to fit on a one-inch square piece of wooden sushi?”
Munchkin: “Mooo-ooom. We’re pretending.”
And then they both try to climb on the one-inch square piece of sushi anyway, because it’s hilarious, and they’re escaping the evil ninja pirate lords.
While I can’t exactly steal their stories of battling evil ninja pirate lords to use in modern contemporary romances, I can watch the way their brains think outside the box, and remind myself to look beyond what’s comfortable and known, and stretch my writing limits too.
- A good temper tantrum can make all the difference.
My kids are superstars at everything (I’m their mom, I can say that), and temper tantrums are no exception. Buttercup has gotten so good at them, she’ll roll out of bed throwing one just to keep her lungs in good temper-tantrum-throwing shape. She’s dedicated.
My kids’ temper tantrums are pure emotion. There’s no logic, no reasoning, there’s simply one massive amount of energy going into expressing displeasure. And when you’re spent afterwards, you can’t look at the world exactly the same.
So to really get to our characters at their heart and soul, we writers have to push them to the limits of where they’d like to throw a temper tantrum. To make them earn their happily-ever-after, we have to give them the big feels and the fears and the insecurities until their worlds shift enough for them to truly understand and appreciate the happiness we’re dangling before them.
- Sometimes, you have to make up your own rules.
One of the fun things about kids is that they don’t know all the rules, and so they’re constantly making up their own. Their imaginations take them crazy, fun places.
Likewise, writers often have to make our own rules. My favorite method of making my own rules recently involved developing a setting for my most recent books. Bliss, Illinois, is the Most Married-est Town on Earth, and as such, there are conventions and traditions that would be weird—even unbelievable—in a normal town, but in Bliss, it totally fits.
- Above all else, have fun!
You know that old adage, Laughter is the best medicine? It’s so true. When the hubby and I are getting frustrated with the kids for fighting bath time, for dragging their feet on doing chores, or for refusing to eat their vegetables, making a game out of it works so much better than losing our cool (though we forget that as often as we remember it).
The same is true for writing. If I’m in a scene and I’m cackling with glee over the torture my poor hero or heroine is enduring, I know my readers will either be giggling right along, or they’ll be glued to the page, wondering how our hapless dears will work their way out of that mess. Either way, it’s a win in my book.
Thanks again for letting me crash your party at Magical Musings today! I had a blast!
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Thanks, Jamie for joining us! A question for you all – what have kids taught you about life in general? Either your own children or someone else’s?
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Jamie Farrell writes fun contemporary romances with quirky characters and lots of heart. She believes love and laughter are two of the most powerful forces in the universe, and she infuses both into all of her stories. Her debut novel, Southern Fried Blues, was a finalist for the 2013 National Readers’ Choice Awards and the 2014 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards.
A native Midwesterner, Jamie has lived in the South the majority of her adult life. When she’s not writing, she and her military hero husband are busy raising three hilariously unpredictable children.