Hire the Kids
by C. Hope Clark
Handling children and managing a home writing
career is like adding oil to water—they do not mix well.
Sometimes you have to shake the bottle a little harder to blend the two
together to get those words on paper but the union doesn't last for long.
Maybe you need a special ingredient in the mix to make a smoother blend. How
about enticing the kids to join your writing team.
Other writing with children
advice usually entails occupying the kids in another part of the house,
setting strict time schedules, and delineating absolute writing space, but
this advice involves drawing them into your world. Hire the kids to work for
you. Put them on "your staff."
The only way most children will
appreciate what you do, or at least humor and respect you for doing it is to
make it meaningful to them. Look at a magazine masthead and scour the
employee titles until you find one or two that fit, like "Circulation
Director," "Advertising Manager," or "Editorial Associate." Then, depending
upon the age of the child, assign the title and a few duties to officially
make them a part of your team.
Payment can be anything you
like. You may offer simple wages (AKA allowance), a Saturday outing,
television on a school night, computer time, or a later bedtime in exchange
for their services rendered. Keep the chart clearly defined on the
refrigerator for everyone to follow so all hold true to the agreement.
Next step after you settle on
payment is to define the duties. If you want to be formal and dramatic about
the arrangement, sign a contract with them. By reading what they have to do,
understanding the reward, and committing to a signature, they will pay more
attention. The little joke just might turn into a "real" job, which might
make them stand a little straighter and speak in adult tones. Hold your
breath, because it just might work.
Create a nametag, and ID badge,
or even business cards depicting their positions. You can do so much with
your computer these days, and the cost is pennies for these little
supportive tools. Children adore playing adult, and these items really pump
up the ego.
Duties have to be genuine,
though. Start pretending the employment is fictitious and you ruin the deal.
What can these young minds do for you that is worthwhile? Consider these
Take out your writing trash.
Pick the days this occurs. Be clear in the assignment.
Bring you your coffee, tea or soft
drink that you sip on while you write. Only require it at a certain time on certain
days so it gets to be a habit. You do not want them to come running at the
snap of your fingers or you erode their trust by reverting to Mom or Dad
instead of remaining the employer.
Dust your computer screen once
Put postage and return
addresses on your submissions. (That will make you submit more articles,
File your papers. (And that
will make you develop an organized filing system.) Mark in the upper
corners or post a sticky note on each piece of paper as to which folder
you wish it filed.
Read over your Web site for
errors or broken links.
Recycle your magazines and
Remember to affix frequency,
days, and quantity if they fit the assignment. No employee wants duties they
cannot decipher. If they clearly understand their tasks, they'll perform.
If you have a writing business
such as copywriting, or if you have books to sell, consider using the babes
as salespeople. They can actually initiate some sales for you. Pack the
little darlings off to school, the movies, camp, or the YMCA with your
business cards or coupons for your services or products. Offer the kids
affiliate fees for any sales they make. You could even mark the cards or
coupons in a special way that identifies which child made the connection
with a customer. Teach them to help you. That way when you succeed, they
succeed as well. Having measures for success in terms of dollars, sales or
jobs acquired does wonders for their self-esteem.
And the best reward of all? They
learn to respect you and the work you perform. They begin to realize why you
write into the night or wake up before dawn. They understand the hard work
required to create a simple magazine submission or a novel synopsis to an
agent. Just being around you and amongst your work allows some of its
meaning to seep into them until they see why you need your writing time.
Suddenly you realize they have evolved from nuisances to your cheerleaders,
and their responsibilities have created a mutual respect between you.
©2004 C. Hope Clark and