Monday, November 15, 2010

Peel Off the Stickers...Nobody's Looking!

If there's one thing that I've learned in life, it's that sometimes it pays to cheat.  And before you get any sneaky ideas about your tax returns, let me explain...

Think back to your childhood:  Back to a time when Uncle Frankie could pull his index finger apart and wiggle the severed end.  Back to a time when the adults would chuckle when you struggled to figure out the complexities of the world.  Back to a time when you were just learning that certain rules were still open to interpretation.

One of the adults gives you a scrambled Rubik's Cube and explains that all of the stickers on each side need to match colors.  They think, this ought to keep you quiet.  And it does...for a while.  You leave the room and peel off the stickers and replace them in their correct location.  Now you can watch all of the adults, including Uncle Frankie, wonder how in the world you were able to solve the Rubik's Cube so fast...and at your age!

It's a wonderful thing to have the freedom and creativity of a child.  I try to take those childhood eyes and focus them on my writing process.  With all of the rigors of trying to get a story edited just so, it helps to exercise some freedom without boundaries.

One excellent way to do this is to write in a journal or do prompt exercises.  You don't have to share this with anyone...ever.  You can write anything you like without having to worry about what you come up with.  When it comes to grammar or punctuation, it doesn't matter.  It won't be perfect, but so what?  Cheat.  It's about tapping into that childhood creativity.

All writers have an inner critic like that adult hovering the child's shoulder saying, "No, that's not the right way to do it."  Your challenge as a writer is to go into another room where nobody else is looking and become that child.  You may discover something surprising and wonder, how in the world did I come up with that?

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