In the final post of this series, John Claude Bemis shares the last five points from his talk at the Table Rock Writers retreat on “What Creative People Can Learn from Observing Children. Directions for how to win an autographed copy of The Prince Who Fell From the Sky follow this post. If you missed the first five points, you can find them here.
Sixth, from the moment a baby starts exploring his world, his job is to learn. Kids’ daily “work” is going to school. This implies a position of humility as they listen to their teachers impart knowledge, facts, and wisdom.
Seventh, kids operate from a gut-level. Sometimes the information daily flooding our brains from the news, Internet, and media can impede our decision making process. Whereas it might take us awhile to gather our thoughts, children often sit down at a blank piece of paper and begin to draw or create immediately. They listen to their intuition.
Ebby Clark when she was 4
Everyone has an opinion about art. Sometimes writers get stuck trying to figure out if their idea is worthwhile or not. John reminded us that, “if you trust your instincts, you can create more purely.”
There is a time to critically evaluate your work, to tweak and re-evaluate it. It’s called revision. But, when you’re creating a new work, “shoot from the hip. Operate from your gut. Don’t over think—create from your intuitive imaginative place!”
Eighth, kids laugh. In fact, they laugh more than 300 times a day whereas adults laugh less than 20 times. Laughter decreases stress hormones, improves blood glucose levels, improves blood pressure, circulation, and oxygen intake, and releases endorphins. Think about laughter as a way to increase your productivity.
|Mason & Libbie|
laughing it up!
For children, laughter is part of their play. Adults should make more time to visit with friends and laugh, relax, and have fun. This gets your right brain working, rather than the logical left side. John suggested that, “If you’ve hit that creative wall and can’t get back to a productive place, call up a funny friend, and find a way to laugh. It’ll relax you and you’ll be surprised how quickly a solution to your problem pops out ‘Eureka!’”
Ninth, kids operate in the moment. Think about a child who is intensely interested in a bug on a sidewalk. That child is being mindful. “The act of being mindful is a place where you are sharply in tuned to the present moment,” John said. Toddlers don’t think about consequences when they scribble on the wall. But they are enjoying the moment!
|"Isn't this what you're supposed to do with ink pads?"|
As writers, thinking too much about the future stifles our actions in the present. For example, if you’re constantly worrying about whether your current story will get picked up by a publisher or how reviewers will respond to it, you can get into a “very negative head space.” John suggested that writers be “present to the journey, not the destination,” focusing on each word, page, and scene.
Tenth, kids embrace and enjoy the absurd. They are delighted by James flying away in a giant peach with a crew of insects and Alice’s wacky adventures in Wonderland. Their brains don’t say, “That could never happen,” instead they love being surprised by the unexpected.
“When we hear something that strikes our brain as ‘wrong’ or ‘off’ or ‘weird’, we start to reassess our assumptions,” John noted. “A cognitive shift occurs as we try to make sense of the absurdity.” He advised writers to embrace the absurd, the strange, AND the weird, in order to get your brain in a more creative place.
In conclusion John encouraged all writers to take a few tips from the most creative people on the planet – kids! In the process, “you’ll be productive and make new discoveries about yourself and your craft.”
I appreciate John allowing me to use the material from his talk on my blog. I hope you'll visit his website and check out all of his marvelous books!
If you would like to receive an autographed copy of this book, please leave me a comment along with your contact information. (Sorry! United States only.) Drawing will be held after 8PM on Thursday, October 9.