To Improve Your Writing, Think Like a Two-Year-Old

I just spent three glorious days in Boston hanging out with William, a toddler who recites Shel Silverstein and loves Thomas the Train and strawberries and Maisy books.  We played, we pretended, we chased bubbles, and we ate ice cream.  He has a rectangular wooden puzzle piece that doubles for his very own iPad (which he made me sleep with at night so it would be ready to use as soon as he woke up).  He talks to carpenter ants, and stomps in puddles, and loves sticks and rocks and pretending to water the garden with a jump rope.

I tell you all of this because if you haven’t hung out with a two-year-old in a while (or ever), you really should. If you’re open to it, a two-year-old can return you to a state of wonder.

When was the last time you sat and watched ants drag crumbs across a sidewalk?  Or stared up at the sky through a ceiling of leaves, watching the light shift and shimmer?  It’s such a luxurious way of living, and so important for a writer.  We are often too busy, though, trying to create the perfect sentence, and we forget to listen, and look, and just be.

William’s descriptions are clear and concise – he likes brown ice cream – and he plays with words the way a good writer does.  He loves to tell stories, and loves to hear them. I have to admit that after he went to bed each night I rushed to my computer to steal his ideas.  But what I got most from him was a reminder that the world is indeed a wondrous place, and that everything in it is worthy of attention.  (Oh, yeah, and that if you tell a carpenter ant he can’t have your snack, he will leave you alone.)

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