Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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Creative Actions: Talk to a Child

A boy lying on a pumpkin...or should that be 'lying over a pumpkin'?

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Hi, I’m Jessica’s Creativity (that’s me smiling down at you from the blog header above). Today I’m inviting you and your Creativity to take creative action!

Every month Creativity’s Workshop encourages you to take creative action by doing something special with your Creativity.

So far we’ve covered crazy research, finding inspiration on Pinterest, declaring yourself a writer with nifty posters and making a writer’s day with a simple message. These are all activities where your Creativity can come to the fore and directly dabble in your everyday life.

This month’s Creative Action requires the following:

  • A young child
  • An open mind
  • Patience
  • An active Creativity

I think it also requires a bag of marshmallows and a yoyo but Jessica insists they’re optional. Sigh.

The Purpose of This Month’s Action

Everyone has a unique viewpoint and voice. When you are able to incorporate these two elements into your characters, you take them from being just words on a page to actual people who talk for themselves. (Your next problem with be getting them to follow along with your plot, but that’s a battle for another day. You can’t have everything, you greedy writer you!)

Your Creativity plays an essential role in crafting your character’s viewpoint and voice. This month’s action will give your Creativity some extra idea fodder to work with.

So what is the action in question?

Instructions

This month I’m encouraging you to have a conversation with a small child.

The goals of the conversation are to:

  • Notice the word choices and grammar hiccups that are inherent to small children, and
  • Discover how the world looks from a child’s point of view.

You might try talking about:

  • School
  • Home
  • Favourite colours
  • Favourite toys
  • What they would like to be when they grow up
  • Disgusting things they’ve recently found in their back garden

Be creative with your conversation but try to talk as little as possible. Let your small friend do the talking. After all, you’re listening for their unique ways of speaking and thinking about things.

When you return to your writing, don’t use the conversation verbatim (treat this conversation with the same thoughtfulness and confidentiality as you would a conversation with any other person), but be inspired by the flavour of the discussion. Let their childish viewpoints and voice infuse your mind with ideas. Use your fresh perspective to create a new character or give an existing character a more distinct voice.

Now potter off and find yourself a small child.

Note: Make sure the child’s parent is happy for you to have a conversation with their child.  This is not an excuse to kidnap children in the name of Creativity.

Now, over to you. Do you remember any of the quirky words or phrases you used to use as a child? Can you remember your perspective on things when you were young? Let us know in the comments.


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Why ‘Childish’ is the Greatest Complement You Can Pay Your Creativity

Baby with sunglasses

Sometimes Jessica and I have disagreements/discussions on my behaviour.

I don’t like vegetables. She calls me childish.

My concentration flits from subject to subject. She calls me childish.

My hair is rainbow-coloured.  She calls me childish.

And each time I take it as a complement.

Why?

Because children are creative. Here, I’ll give you some examples.

Children Ask Questions

‘Why?’ Sure, it may be one of the most annoying words in the English language (especially if you’re a parent), but with that one word children learn to unravel the intricacies of their world.

Children are learning machines, and it’s because they ask questions. Even before they are able to formulate words, they are asking questions in their mind. ‘What happens if I do this?’ ‘How can I get your attention?’ ‘Can I fit banana up my nose?’

Those questions lead to experiments, sometimes with conclusive answers (‘Yes, squished banana does fit up my nose’), sometimes with new questions (‘What about apples?’).

Being creative is about asking questions, especially the questions other people haven’t thought of or are afraid to ask. There are plenty of people working on the obvious questions. To find unique answers, often you need to ask the uncomfortable or obscure questions.

Children Test Out Their Theories

Once a child has a question, they find way to answer it.

‘What does dirt taste like?’ Simple, taste it.

‘What does a caterpillar feel like?’ Touch it and see.

‘What does a saucepan sound like?’ That’s a no brainer.

And yet if an adult were to ask those questions, they may hypothesize an answer in their heads, but would they ever reach a definite conclusion?

Questions are extremely useful, but only if you act to find the answers. There is such a thing as too much theorizing. Eventually you have to stick your hand in and try. Why not start with an experiment, instead of musing.

Children Make Mess

‘This I know,’ you may say. ‘I clean my kid’s mess up every evening.’

There has to be a level of ‘mess’ in creative endeavours. If everything is too clean, too tidy, too perfect, then there’s no opportunity for the unexpected.

Creativeness happens when two unexpected things connect. If you have everything compartmentalized, when will the unexpected connect? Only during mental earthquakes, and at that point you’re too distracted by other things.

To be truly creative, you need to be prepared to get messy – embrace it, cause it, revel in it – because this is what it means to be creative.

Children Are Fascinated By Simple Things

‘Small things amuse small minds.’ How often is this term used in a derogatory manner?

It’s a beautiful thing to watch a child fascinated by something as simple as a bottle top or a gumnut. They turn the object over in their hands. They test it in many different situations. They learn all the ins and outs of that one little thing.

And when they’re done, their brain has a detailed understanding of that object. An understanding which will last a lifetime. But how many more little objects are our there to learn about?

Small things, or ‘simple things’ can reveal the answers to universal questions and provide life changing ideas.

Don’t shun the simple just because it’s not ‘adult’ enough for your attention. The answer to your question might be right under your nose.

Children Are Humble

Children make mistakes. They fall. They burn themselves. They embarrass themselves. It’s all part of the process. With a little help they pick themselves up, and continue – usually no worse for wear and definitely a little wiser.

Children realise they have much to learn. So they ask questions. They test things out. They make mess. They are constantly curious about their world.

Is being childish such a bad thing? It definitely has advantages from a creative standpoint, if not from other standpoints too.

So why not drop your guard for a little while, hang out with your Creativity and be childish together? Recapture the wonder and see what you discover.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art