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Blog » Michael Rosen on writing for children

11 Dec  

I was browsing through the WW interviews archive, and re-reading some of the fascinating words of Michael Rosen, on the 'child monitor' in his head:

'When you write for children, there is some kind of child monitor in your head that suggests a child’s eye view of things. Who or what this child monitor is, is an interesting question. It is in part the child you were, but it’s also the child you would like to have been, the child you were afraid of, the child you didn’t want to be. It can also be the children you know and/or bring up. In my case, it’s all of these things. When I’m writing for adults, this child monitor isn’t there. I’ve dismissed him. Instead there is something quite diffuse, made up, I guess, of a mix of poets I like, readers I like, critics I like.

The way I’ve expressed this makes me sound as if I’m guided by some kind of control system and I don’t have much say in it. That’s not how it feels. Writing feels to me like something that grabs the world and turns it into shapes and patterns that I like. Sometimes the need to do this feels quite urgent. Almost as if it’s something I’m going to have to do to sort some feelings and thoughts out. Other times, it feels more like a hobby. Something to enjoy doing as a kind of doodling. Both ways, can produce good or bad material, so I never say to myself: only write when it feels urgent, or: only write if it feels like doodling.

The other thing that happens is that writing begets writing. That’s to say, even as I’m writing something, something else will occur to me. This is where the writing for children and the writing for adults overlaps. In the middle of writing for one audience, something will occur to me that might be right for the other. So, if I’m writing about something to do with eg my parents. For children, it’s important to keep the child’s eye view in mind. Half way through, something might occur to me that is about the struggle my parents had to do what they did and this adult stuff. Or it feels that way.'


His website is, he says, aiming to be more child- or school- friendly; http://www.michaelrosen.co.uk/


 StephJones13 commenting on Michael Rosen on writing for children:
11 December 2012 at 13:37

That is such an interesting insight into the way a children's writer's mind works. I think it's quite similar to writing for young adult's too, you try and view the world with the same urgency that you did when you were a teenager and your character goes through the experiences you did, or the ones you wanted to go through or the ones you wouldn't have wanted to go through.

 Anna Reynolds commenting on Michael Rosen on writing for children:
11 December 2012 at 14:04

Isn't it fascinating? and I love the way he talks about moving from writing for children into writing the parents' view immediately after... in the interview he also talks about his own writing process and how it works with whatever is going on around him, which is also rather intriguing..

 Issy commenting on Michael Rosen on writing for children:
11 December 2012 at 16:32

Great insights there and I especially like Michael's part of the child you were, or wanted to be etc. Resonated so strongly with me.

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