When most writers dream about writing for children (or perhaps writing in general) they picture writing fiction. Fun stories about spunky animals or hilarious children. They dream about stories that capture the magic and fairy tale wishes of kids, and you know what? I get that. I did that too. Fiction is wonderful, creative, and exciting, and you should write it.
But you know what else you should consider writing? Nonfiction.
I’m serious. I was NOT interested in nonfiction at all. It sounded boring to me. But what’s crazy is I love reading nonfiction. Give me something by Malcolm Gladwell or a book on running and I gobble that stuff up. And you know what? When I started opening my writing avenues and writing nonfiction, I found some success.
The Competition is Less
Magazines, editors, and agents are overwhelmed with fiction. Truly. Even if you write a wonderful story and are an excellent writer, you have to be really amazing to stand out from the other excellent writers who write wonderful stories. (Unless you happen to be able to read an editor’s mind and know exactly what they are looking for.) When you’re just getting started, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Nonfiction can be a great way to get that first publishing credit and build a bit of credibility as a writer.
It Can Be Creative
When people hear “nonfiction” the first thing that comes to mind is “BORING.” And if you were forced to read a lot of very poorly written, dry nonfiction as a child, that could be well-deserved. But nonfiction doesn’t have to be boring. It can be incredibly creative and fun. Narrative nonfiction, real life mysteries, biographies of unknown, but cool historical figures or scientists, gross science facts are all really creative and exciting for kids.
You Can Double Up on Research
Let’s say you’re interested in writing historical fiction. A story set in history needs every detail to be accurate and true, even if the story itself is made up. All of the details need to be researched. If you have to research anyway, why not use some of that historical research to write a nonfiction article? Research can be used over and over again in many different forms of writing.
It’s in High Demand
Publishers, teachers, parents, and librarians are constantly looking for really good nonfiction whether in magazines or books that can be used in conjunction with curriculum and standards. Magazines are always looking for great, well-researched articles, crafts, and activities.
It Can Be a Source of Income
Ok, you don’t really want to pursue a career in writing nonfiction, but let me make one more point. It can be a fantastic way to put a little extra cash in your pocket. Magazines, educational markets, and anthologies are great places to submit your nonfiction, giving you a byline and a paycheck.
I would never suggest writing nonfiction just because of market potential, but it’s worth pursuing to strengthen your writing chops, and getting a few more writing credits.
On a personal note, my first “big break” came from a nonfiction piece accepted by a children’s magazine. I enjoy writing nonfiction, along with fiction and I highly encourage you to as well.