Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Care and feeding of the inner brat

Writers, like all folks with creative bents to their psyches, have to keep their inner child alive and well. But more than that. We need to keep our inner child stubborn, determined, and willing to do whatever it takes to get what we need. 

In short, our inner child needs to be a brat. 

Now, not a brat as in falling on the floor and throwing a foaming fit, but a brat as in hunkering down and not taking no for an answer. 

Plus, not only does the delightful little inner brat have to be stubborn as heck--
they have to be willing and able to follow flights of fancy wherever they may lead.

As kids, most all of us had amazing imaginations--both good and bad--a great imagination meant that we really COULD think of the monster from the movie we just saw coming to get us. But it also meant the entire world was ours. We could be a high powered princess one day, a horse the next, and the president of the galaxy the day after. Listen to little kids, the vast majority of their play is story telling. Sometimes very active story telling. Most of us don’t act out our tales, but the kids are story telling nonetheless.

Then somewhere we lose that.

The world comes down on us and says the things we make up aren’t real, could never happen, and are extremely silly besides. Most humans retire their story worlds at that point. But a few of us hang on to it. We write because these great, “What If’s” keep popping in our heads. We see a headline and think, “What if it didn’t go like that? What if it went like this?” Eventually, in an effort to quiet the voices, we start writing these ideas down.

Now some folks are fine with that. The story is out of them, they don’t need to go further and can now return to a somewhat normal life.

But for the rest of us, our inner child needs to get her war paint on. Have you ever seen a kid want something so badly they keep crying for it until they fall asleep exhausted? As writers we need to do that. Ok, not the crying part (well it’s ok after a horrible review, but then you have to move on), but the hanging on to something so tight we never let go.

We have to hold this need to hang on close to our hearts. We need to honor our inner brat and not tell it it’s stupid (such as the inner comments of “I suck”, “I can’t write”, “I’ll never be published”.) Like external children, those kind of comments can be very damaging.

And we need to build our resilience. If one story doesn’t work, do another. Re-write it. Re-envision it. Like the kid who keeps building towers in the kitchen until they get that damn cookie jar, we need to keep working until we hit our first goal. Then keep it up for each book afterwards.

We need to keep our inner brat hungry for the prize. Creative, stubborn, and willing to get whatever help it takes to get to our goal.

A friend once gave me a framed print that says it all:

“Never, Never give up”- Winston Churchill
“Never, Never grow up”- Dr. Seuss

Keep that inner brat alive and well ;).


  1. It's so sad when someone's creativity and imagination get shut down and lost. Hold on tight and never let it go! Congrats on being so close to getting your second book out!

    1. Very true! I see so many adults who lost their spark :(. Thank you! :)

  2. This blog came at a good time for me. I intend to carefully tend my
    inner brat. Thanks for posting.

    1. I'm very glad! And good on you for keeping the brat alive :)- we need them!

  3. Winston had so many wonderful things to say like... Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

    My brat wants to be civilized, polite, and not rock the boat, always thinking of others and what's best for them. My brat must have been horribly guiltified as a youngster. I should really kick my brat's butt and tell it to be selfish sometimes.

    I was watching "Into the Woods" the other day and this was a line from one of the songs....

    Wishes come true - not free.

    It applies to finishing a novel. It can be done, just not without cost.

    Great post, Marie.


  4. Yep, definitely what every writer needs to cultivate within themselves. Plus, its just fun to let loose.