Andrew Clements was born 29 May 1949 and died 28 November 2019.
- Sometimes kids ask how I’ve been able to write so many books. The answer is simple: one word at a time. Which is another good lesson, I think. You don’t have to do everything at once. You don’t have to know how every story is going to end. You just have to take that next step, look for that next idea, write that next word.
- I try to write every day, especially when I’m in the middle of a novel. But I find that even if I can’t actually walk through the garage and shut myself up in the office where I write, I can still work, because the biggest part of writing is thinking—and I can do that anywhere at any time. I always keep paper and pencil handy, and lately I’ve come to rely on the recorder on my phone to help me capture ideas when they come trotting along.
- I have proven again and again that there is “story potential” in the life that is streaming all around us every day. Most of my story ideas have grown from things that have happened in my own life, or from situations or events that have happened in the lives of others. I do believe that there is such a thing as “thinking like a writer,” and I eventually figured out that I’ve been thinking that way most of my life–even many years before I ever began to work at writing.
- The best advice I’ve ever given to a young writer is this: Read. Read all the good books you can get your hands on. Learn what good writing sounds like and feels like, pay attention to the way that good writing makes you feel and think. And then take it to the next level and try to discover the elements the writer is using. Remember that everything that happens in a book happens on purpose. The words did not just land on the page that way by chance. As you read a book, you are looking at thousands and thousands of decisions someone made, and if you begin to think like a writer, you may be able to discover why a particular sentence was written in that particular way.
- Thinking like a writer means paying close attention to just about everything–people, conversations, relationships, events, news, science, technology, nature, animals–the whole fascinating shebang! And if you pay close attention, there are stories all around you. Finding those stories might be simple, once you get used to looking for them. But the process of making stories come to life and finding just the right words to capture them? Not so simple. And therefore thinking like a writer also means a willingness to do the hard work it is going to take to create something worthwhile–which is true no matter what you choose to do in this world!
Andrew Clements was an American writer of children’s books. He is best known for his popular middle grade novel Frindle, about a fifth-grader’s plan to invent a new word. His most popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, and Lunch Money. He was also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series.
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