Everyone is Given a Box of Crayons in Kindergarten

So my wonderful blogging network of new friends has given me so many words of wisdom and helpful sites for writers to go to.  One of which included reading the book “Ignore Everybody and 39 other keys to creativity” by Hugh MacLeod.  I won’t re-tell you about the book, you should check out the blog post I read or the author’s site.  But one of his chapters is a reminder that everyone is born creative.

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they  take the crayons away and repace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc.  Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.'”  -Hugh MacLeod

The book is full of wacky cartoon drawings and keen combinations of hysterical no nonsense advice.  It talks inspirational process along with business necessities.  Mostly what I appreciate is the author’s honest voice that creativity is work.  The ideas that come to you can shoot out like fireworks, but somebody’s got to measure out the gunpowder, safely and securely measure out the display base, and strike the match.  He reminds us that good ideas are worth fighting for, and you’ve got to show up for the battle.

So this week, my quest was to practice writing prompts every day.  Today I went onto www.writeordie.com which is a site many other bloggers, writers, NaNoWriMo’s have all suggested, and I thought what better week to try?  The site offers a timed space for writing to measure word count, and if the author fails to complete so many words after a short period of time, subtle hints are given on the screen.  First off, I think write or die will be my mental undoing.  Always a bit of a competitor in the language field, I went straight to kamikaze mode on a grace period level of “strict.”  At first the sudden color change made me jump a little, I wasn’t expecting that.  In amusement, I watched as the screen went from a happy-go-lucky pink into a dip-dye evil red.  I was hoping there would be another color, but suddenly multiple words were deleted from my story.  Scrambling to put them back together I barely had time to think about what my character would see next before the pink background began it’s bloody dripping down my screen again.  I lasted only 12 minutes.  Write or die is not a place to do the brainstorming for your story.  Write or die is a place to take your brainstorming and crank it out on page.  Duly noted.  I should tell you the next level up is called Electric Shock Mode on a grace period of “evil.”

The one fantastic thing write or die did for me was illustrate just how much I need to brainstorm the next plan of action for my short story.  I’ve recently dumped my protagonist, Lydia, into a labyrinthian underworld through which she must walk a series of strange parallel worlds.  In order to bring her to life again I have to plan what will happen to her, who she’ll meet, what she’ll find.

And that brings me to next week’s writing resolution.  I will create a storyboard.  I’m an immensely visual learner, so trying to brainstorm while using write or die only distracted me more watching the color of my screen change, so my brainstorming needs to occur beforehand.  Crawl, then walk, Jess!  Duh!  Using photos and language that inspire me, I’ll make a storyboard of Lydia’s journey.  I also plan to read before bed each night.  I have a hard time “turning my head off” as I call it, I lay awake thinking about the day, about work, the laundry list of things to do (which reminds me I need to change my laundry), so I plan to read before bed and hope I think about my story as I fall asleep.  Better keep a pen and paper handy too, just in case inspiration sparks!  Good luck to all of you on your writing endeavors!

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3 responses

  1. Yeah, WriteorDie is definitely not helpful if you’re not sure where the story is supposed to go. But if you have a pretty clear idea of your plot, it can really help you crank out those words.

  2. Hi Jess! Happy New Year!
    I did the Write or Die thing too and talk about cattle prods! But your article really brings home the point. I’m generally a seat-of-pants writer, but this thing pointed out how important pre-planning can actually become.

    Thanks for blogging!

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