A.A. Milne as the Mentor
Taking the Lead from Winnie the Pooh
To the writer, the blank page is as terrifying as the scariest of horror movies. Whether the person staring down the page is a student, aspiring author, or the professional writer, writer's block happens. Let Winnie the Pooh take the lead in helping to get past the block.
Author A.A. Milne wrote the first Winnie the Pooh book in 1926. Two years later, The House at Pooh Corner followed. From there, the stories have continued right on into Disney fame, attributed to book and movie sales alike. Did Milne experience at any time the terrifying page with no letters written thereon? If so, Milne won that battle of the blank page if sales on the infamous Winnie the Pooh tales are an indicator.
First, as with all writers of fiction, he had to think about characters. Christopher Robin, the lovable friend of Pooh, is the namesake of Milne's own son, Christopher Robin Milne. Consider the other friends in the tale. Real toys belonging Christopher Milne form the basis of the other characters. Of course, there was a bear in that real toy mix, and yes, his name was Winnie. While on vacation, Milne and his son often visited the London Zoo. The bear cub named Winnie lived there. Real-life adventures brought the character to fruition in the story of Winnie the Pooh. A vacation trip and encounter with a swan name Pooh completed the naming of Winnie the Pooh. What is the bottom-line on thinking of characters if the text requires them? The author looking close to home, as did Milne, is the best thought.
Then of course, there is setting. Where should the author search? Look around the home of course. The setting, directly from Milne's life, is Ashdown Forest in Sussex, England. The beautiful land, located about 30 miles from London, set the stage for Hundred Acre Wood, the forest in the Winnie the Pooh tales. Milne owned a country home in a town not far from there. From their front lawn, the Milne family could see the forest and went there on foot often. Tales in the Winnie the Pooh stories relate to the woods. Landscapes drawn for the books come directly from this forest. Find a setting by merely look around!
The details then come into play. Take the game played in the book, Poohsticks. The real-life Christopher Milne played that game on a footbridge. Playing sticks gathered from nearby property served as play equipment. A board at the bridge today tells how to play the game. What better source do writers own than their personal background and circumstances?
All is to say, whether writing fiction, poetry, or informational articles, the writer can always turn to his or her own background. Children, when asked to write in school, experience the terror of that blank page. Conversation with the teacher revels those students to believe they have nothing about which to write. The smart teacher has that child just tell the story of what they personally have already done that day to get to school. Even in the course of one day, personalized writing material appears. That background is useable for characters, setting, and for details. The writer working on topics for informational articles merely needs to consider his own interests. Oh what topic would he hinself want to read an article?
Here is a closing thought. Research A.A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh and, for no reason other than for fun, have a party. Order Winnie the Pooh supplies which are easy to find. Forever the idea of ideas coming from within will be in the mind's forefront.
On a happy note, get the eBooks of the works of famous authors free through Project Gutenberg. A favorite piece there is, Selected Stories Worth Rereading. Writing ideas abound from some of the tales found within. Author background there quickly shows connections of authors' lives to their works.