How Writing Children’s Books Cleared My Mind

“I am a book fairy,” the creature said with aplomb.

I just read Megan Conley’s story “How Morning Freewriting Brings Lasting Productivity” (https://readthink.com/how-morning-freewriting-brings-lasting-productivity-f47ca8d0ae9#.q2kpumlfn). In her post, Megan posits that we should all write for ten minutes each morning before we start our day, because regular workplace journaling is one of the best ways to improve professional performance.

I have no doubt this true and I think spending the first ten minutes of every day freewriting is a fantastic idea. Through journaling, we are able to clear our thoughts, improve our writing, clarify our goals and open the door to new ideas. These benefits are fabulous and the task itself takes little time out of the day. However, I can’t help wonder whether the goal as laid out by Megan isn’t just a bit soul crushing. Is being an efficient, productive employee really what we should be working towards at the end of the day? It is of course an important goal, but is it the ultimate goal? What if instead of (or in addition to) freewriting, a person began another creative endeavor first thing in the morning, such as writing a novel, working on a painting or writing a children’s book? What kind of impact would that have on our lives — not only as an employee, but as a human being?

I spent a couple of years doing just that. Every morning I would get up before the rest of the family, have a cup of coffee and work on various children’s stories that were knocking around in my mind. I think I started with children’s stories because when my children were young, I felt that life was moving way too fast. As a working mother, I was living in a haze of exhaustion, overwhelmed by the complexity of raising children in today’s society. It left me breathless. On the other hand, these same little people who were adding to my work load were also a clear reminder to slow down, look around once in a while, and see the world through their eyes.

As humans, we all have the need to tell stories, either about our self or about others. I am assuming that is why Medium calls its posts “stories”. For me, by writing (and illustrating) children’s stories, I was able to see my world more clearly. My children swam (and continue to swim) in an ocean of free-flowing information, with liquid identities composed of new cultural and linguistic blends. I watched in awe as they — products of two countries growing up in a third — explored their world, navigating complexity I could not have imagined at their age, and doing so with joy and laughter (mostly, anyway).

As a working parent, I try to inject that joyful juice of theirs in my life and, in hindsight, I feel that my Lenilotte series was an attempt to depict my modern life with my modern children. It was part artistic endeavor and part therapy. There are many reasons why children’s books are written and published, such as transferring knowledge, providing a moral, carrying a message and entertaining. Could another reason for writing a children’s book be to better understand ourselves? By breaking down our complex world into a children’s story, can we better understand our own existence? I think for me, this has been the case. I am not only proud of my Lenilotte series as stand along books, but also because they are a reflection of me.