There are so many books and blogs out there on the structure of writing, the use of plot and plot devices, characterization, and plotting or pantsing. So many, in fact, it would be impossible to list them on in one single blog post without it reaching into the basement. That’s okay though, because I’m not going to talk about those things today.
Instead, I’m going to talk about children. Or, more to the point, how children can make you a better writer.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you that you must go out right now and procreate yourself
a gaggle a herd a flock a bunch of babies. If you don’t have children, that is fine. I’ll let you know how to work around that as well.
Children are free to run and play as much as they want (within parental approval). They have huge imaginations that can take them anywhere and allow them to be whomever or what ever they want. My daughter loves cats. Often, she will run around on all fours meowing. My son likes to drive cars and though he is only 2 years old, with the toys at his disposal and his imagination he is capable of being a stunt driver or a race car driver. Anything he wants.
Writers live in their imaginations too. The only difference? We use our imaginations as a tool. Children use them as toys for play and adventure. So how can we become better writers by learning from children? We stop using our imaginations as a tool and start learning how to live the adventure the way our children do.
How about trying an exercise?
Go to the park or a play ground, sit down, and watch the kids that run around for up to an hour. (If you have kids, take them too.) Now ask yourself these questions:
1) What is running through their imaginations?
2) What, if anything, is holding them back?
3) How do they use the equipment on the playground to enhance their imaginative play?
Once you’ve answered these questions… try it out yourself.
That’s right. Get out there and play and allow your imagination to run wild and free, full of adventure. (It’s preferable for this to happen with your own children. If you don’t have any children, ask friends or family if you can come over and play with theirs. If your friends and family don’t have any, that’s okay. Try the exercise by yourself!)
The tricky part comes when you start feeling awkward. Maybe there are people looking at you like you’ve been running around naked for the last week. STOP FEELING SELF-CONSCIOUS!!! Kids don’t worry about what people think of them when they’re playing. What they do care about is how much fun they are having.
Once you’ve done this, you won’t look at your imagination the same way again. Ideas you would have scoffed at before now hold possibility. “What if” stops and “IT IS” begins.
When you welcome your inner child – become your inner child – you open up a world of possibilities… All the possibilities your imagination can come up with.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a play date with Precious and Little Man=)