Lauren Child commented during her recent SWF talk, that many people over the years had doubted her credibility to be able write for children, because she was not a mother. (She became a mother only five years ago).
In my experience, I have found the opposite to be true. Sometimes I think being a mother has hindered my ability to write a good story.
As an example, a few years ago I had an idea for a junior novel set in space. When I started researching what it’s like going into space, I thought, What kind of mother would actually let their kid go into space? Space is a dangerous place! And it can seriously mess with your health and maybe shorten your life.
It was a total creative buzz kill. My story about kids going in space is still waiting to be written.
A year or so ago, I did a writing for children course with Jess Black, and I have written in my notes from that day, ‘Put pressure on your character – it’s not mean’.
She explained to us that sometimes she felt like she was being so cruel to her protagonist, pushing her to breaking point with problem, after problem…. but that is what makes a good story.
In my own life, I am around my children quite a lot, and I try to protect them from danger, but as a writer, I think I need to do the opposite. Get the adults out of the picture as much as possible, and let the kids be the heroes and solve the problems.