6-Year-Olds Make Terrible Editors

One of my favorite things in the world is reading with my daughter. We recently started writing together, too. And it’s been pretty awesome.

I love the 1-on-1 time and she comes up with some amazing characters. Nothing will drive your imagination further than letting a kid take the wheel. 

Because she’s 6, we have a lot of princess stories. But the rule is, we need to make up new ones. No Cinderella. No Elsa. No Merida (even though she’s a total badass).

No—any princess we write about has to be created from scratch.

And there’s no way I could ever come up with the nonsensical names this girl creates.  We’ve got:

  • Mr. Washington Monument – A living slab of concrete who runs the Royal Zoo.
  • Dreida – The princess’s favorite Fairy Whale
  • Crusher Bones – Our villain
  • Smoodle – One of Crusher’s henchmen
  • The Octopooper – Nobody’s quite sure what he does

They’re whimsy, silly and perfect. And that’s just from our current story. The list is endless.

I could go into an attack of the portrayal of weak women needing a man to rescue them—but she’s 6. And this isn’t that kind of post. Besides, I think the last few Disney movies have solidly addressed that issue.

…Here’s the thing though.

The girl is destroying my story lines.

I love her, but every time we start getting somewhere, she wants to add a new character. Usually a fairy. Sometimes an animal. Often a fruit. And we pivot. Now, I’m all for character development. But I’m trying to tell a story here! Someone’s got to teach this kid about structure. But no. All she wants to do is make an entire magical kingdom of fluffy characters and their friends.

Uggh. It’s like writing for a 5-year-old.

You’re better than that, kid. You’re this many now!

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Have you not learned anything from Dahl, Seuss & Gaiman yet? C’mon!

…Luckily, she’s cute.

I’ve secretly started editing some of our stories after she falls asleep. She gets mad when she notices, but I think she’ll love me for it when she’s older.

*Drops $15 in the “Therapy Money” jar*

Maybe we’ll try again tomorrow night.

 

Stealing Techniques From My Favorite Authors

I write a lot about brand loyalty and earning hotel points when you travel. I love it, but it can become a little formulaic. And I wanted a little adrenaline rush. So I started stealing.

…In a good way.

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I’ve mentioned that I love children’s books. I’ve got Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl tattooed on me. I literally wear my passion on my sleeve. But how does this relate to writing posts about hotels?

You gotta get crafty.

You use whatever you can use.

Clearly I can’t get away with putting in nonsensical phrases or silly words at work. But I can follow unconventional sentence structures.

I can write short. Like this. To make your eyes move. Then stop. Then fly fast. Woosh! Red light. Green light. Go! Across the page. And then I can randomly change it by putting in an unfittingly long sentence that carries more weight to it so maybe you’ll pay attention a little more and your brain notices some type of subconscious switch that makes you feel indecisive, or anxious, or even a wee bit panicked.

…But I only do that if I want to freak out my reader. Ya know, for funsies.

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I can’t steal the themes I love, but I can steal the cadence.

And alliteration. Oh, I love alliteration. I eat it up, like tiny teeth tearing into taffy. It’s not like I can hit Seussian levels—I just pepper it in where I can. Especially with headlines. As long as they’re clear. Clear doesn’t have to mean to boring. 

It’s the little things like this that make my job fun. Oftentimes I’ll get a comment from a stakeholder that they really liked a piece, but they can’t exactly figure out what’s different about it. That’s when I know I got it right. Just enough familiarity to make it not feel ripped off.

It’s taken me about 2 years to find the balance. And that’s on top of a lifetime honing my voice. I don’t know that I’ll ever perfect it. That’s what makes this whole thing fun.

Just a little better each time.

And our readers seem to like it, too. Open and conversion rates have taken a nice little bump.

Oh, the places we’ll go…

 

 

We Lost, Now It’s Time to Shake Hands.

After the game ends, you shake hands. First with your team, then with your opponent. You line up and you say, “Good game.” 

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The handshake line is the best tradition in sports and it’s what I reminded my kids this morning.

If you didn’t win, that’s OK. You feel the way the other team felt 4 years ago. You don’t love it, but you’re not supposed to. Because you care. And it’s never as bad as it feels right now.

We all taste victory. We all taste defeat.

That’s how it works.

If you won, congratulations. You fought hard. 

If you’re upset , that’s alright. Just remember that your entire team feels the same way. You are not alone. You played well. You played a respectable game and you did it together—and boy, did you make it close.

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We’ll play again in 4 years. 

Good game, everyone.