Reconnect with your childhood

Exercise

Take some time to reconnect with your own childhood, reflecting on what was it like to be a child between the ages of eight and twelve. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. What did you spend your time doing?
  2. What were some misconceptions you had about the world?
  3. What were you afraid of?
  4. What excited and delighted you?
  5. What did you think being an adult would be like?
  6. Can you recall an instance of deep injustice?
  7. Who were your friends?
  8. What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
  9. Where was your favourite place?
  10. How did you feel waking up on your birthday?
  11. What did the last day of the summer holidays feel like?

You can complete this exercise as a kind of meditation, or with a pen in your hand making notes. If you can, revisit a space from your childhood. How has it changed? (It will have shrunk.) How has the way you see it changed? Recognising what’s different to your adult eyes will help you to understand the way you saw things in the past, as a child, and therefore how children probably see things differently to you now.

If anything jumps out as being particularly memorable or meaningful during your reminiscences, make a note of it. Your childhood was unique, but many of the emotions and experiences will be universal; it is this honesty and familiarity that will make your writing feel authentic and resonate with readers.

Tip

Another great way of summoning your inner child is to revisit a childhood pastime. Nintendo recently reissued a games console I played relentlessly as a young boy, and the blast of nostalgia upon returning to those 8-bit worlds was intense.

Watch a favourite childhood film, listen to music you loved, or, better still, read a book you devoured as a child. Immersing ourselves in these activities is the closest we’re likely to get to travelling in a time machine, and recalling what it felt like to be a child – to be swept away – will give you an insight into both your readers and your characters.