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Yolen: Famous writers from A to Z on writing

Where does writing start? How does a writer find his or her voice and begin to pursue the best and busiest communication career possible?
Jane Hyatt Yolen (1939-____) is an award-winning American poet, children’s author, and science fiction writer. Her best known books include the popular Commander Toad series, How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night, How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday, How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You, Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls, Owl Moon, The Devil's Arithmetic (which became a 1999 movie with Kristen Dunst, Brittany Murphy, and Mimi Rogers), and The Seeing Stick.

Consider this telling Jane Yolen quote, which offers a clue by breaking writing down into the most basic form possible.

“Take a step. Breathe in the world. Give it out again in story, poem, song, or art.”

Once started, is it possible for a writer to sustain this simplicity and still crank out plenty of worthy materials? This additional Jane Yolen statement offers a secret to productive and prolific writing, as well as how to practice the craft.

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”

As a writer who has published so many titles for children, Yolen displays a clever sense of humor, as well as an appreciation for childhood creativity. This third Jane Yolen quotation illustrates this idea:

“Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.”

We have to wonder how many grown-up writers first caught the wordsmithing spark while enjoying read-aloud books as youngsters.

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  1. I love those dinosaur books and have bought several for my granddaughters. By hey are a fun read at bedtime! I wrote on southern food and memories.

  2. A textually transmitted disease! Love it :D


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