|Our Almost Six-Year-Old's Portrait of His Mamma |
(That is to say, me!)
Our almost six-year-old is fearlessly creative. And, as you might have guessed, there's a lesson in there for the creative process.
When he was home with the flu, we watched the movie Black Panther. Then he wanted to make a Black Panther paper costume and asked for construction paper, tape and scissors. I was hesitant since I knew neither one of us could create something that would look anything like the movie character. I didn't want to set us up to fail.
Bu our child was eager to try. Even as the cut out eyes in the mask were too close together for him to see out of and the mask was too small to fit over his head, he didn't give up. When he encountered a problem, he tried to fix it or start that part over. He was thrilled to show us the final project that he taped directly to his cheeks.
He (inadvertently) practiced many skills in the process (holding a pen correctly, drawing intended lines, cutting those lines and measuring - and re-measuring - distances.) He relied on his memory and creativity to create something out of a different material from the original. What mattered was the process, but he was also building on past skills and working towards future skills.
It seems that most children, given some space, will essentially educate themselves through play. This is an important part of any learning process and something adults should continue to practice.
Adults working towards writing projects often forget about the process. We are fixated on the final product and don't "count" unrelated tasks as a part of the drafting process. Sure, we shouldn't only generate work and ignore editing, but there's value in creating for the sake of creating. We should each spend some time exploring our craft in different ways and taking chances. We might find that we have unexpected skills, learn something new about ourselves or understand our creations in new ways. If nothing else, we are likely to enjoy ourselves in the moment.
I've been trying to write children's stories. I've gotten myself all tangled up in complicated stories that don't work on many (or sometimes any) levels. I decided to write some stories that are exceptionally simple and direct in an effort to practice writing plot for children. Are the stories generally bland and boring? Sure. Am I having fun? Yes. It feels productive and I'm learning something by completing these exercises. I am also feeling free to try some new things since I'm not sitting down with any expectations of greatness. None of these stories will ever be submitted for publication as I view them 100% as process.
I will always remember my high school art teacher, Mr. Paul Aspell, saying something like, "Never sit down with the intention to create a masterpiece. You'll be too frightened to create something new."
I encourage you to create something new today without any expectations. See what happens.