The one event in my childhood that has had the greatest effect on my writing career is due to my mom. When I was little and couldn’t fall asleep, my mom would bring me back to my room (because why would I stay there when I could go find my parents and hope they’d let me stay up just a little bit longer) and tell me to make up a story. She’d sit with me and rub my back while I would think of a story.
Usually, it was something that happened to me during that day or week—an event at school, a play date with a friend or a family event. One of my favorite things to think about was Indian Princesses, a father-daughter activity sponsored by the YMCA. We’d go sledding, camping, dancing or get together at people’s houses and do a father-daughter craft.
I would replay these events in my head and create a story out of them. I’d create characters—sometimes based on real people, other times not—and add to the end. Usually, I’d fall asleep before I did get to the end, allowing me to have more to think about the next night. If the story was good enough, I’d actually look forward to going to sleep so that I could get involved in my characters.
When I got older, I used the same techniques to tell my own stories and eventually wrote them down. Even today, most of my thinking time for my stories comes in the minutes while I’m trying to fall asleep. The challenge is to be able to write the ideas down and make them as good on paper as they were the night before in my head!
So, thanks Mom!