Monday, October 6, 2014

Gifts from John Bemis- Part III And a GIVEAWAY!

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. 
"I know there's a way these scissors
are supposed to work!"
Libbie Kasten, 18 months

The same goes for writers. No matter how knowledgeable you think you are about the craft, there’s always more to learn. Be a humble, patient, attentive student as you continue to grow your craft.
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
"A masterpiece!"
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?"
Mason, 3-years-old
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. 


Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Laughter. I want more of that!

And I want the book too.

Really enjoyed you sharing John's insights, Carol.

Barbara Younger said...

Love these posts! (And would love to win the book).

Your photos are adorable and spot on.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Barbara and Joyce. Started the giveaway list with your names! Joyce--you and I both need more laughter. We need to "work" on that! And thanks Barbara-- I know you'll be using your little guy to illustrate your posts too!

Linda Phillips said...

Again, love how you are using the grands to illustrate John's talking points. And yes, I would love to enter to win one of John's books.

Linda A. said...

John is one super teacher, in the classroom, online, and while observing play.
Thanks for sharing some of the tips you learned at his recent class.

Carol Baldwin said...

Linda and LInda-- you;re both in!

Lisa Fowler said...

Thank you, Carol for sharing these tid-bits of knowledge.I love the photographs too. Oh yes, and thank you for the opportunity to win this book.

Rosi said...

Wonderful posts. I need more laughter in my life, no doubt, along with more absurdity. Thanks for these posts and for a chance to win The Prince Who Fell from the Sky. It sounds wonderful.

Carol Baldwin said...

Good to hear from you LIsa, I didn't know you followed my blog! And Thanks for leaving a comment, Rosi. You're both in!

Ann Eisenstein said...

John is such a wonderful teacher, author & dad! (Not necessarily in that order.) I always enjoy being with him because I invariably walk away with a smile and feel like I have been part of a wonderful game! This series has been delightful and so inspiring. The pictures were a bonus! Thanks to both of you, Carol and John! (And, yes, I would love to win any one of his books).

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Ann, for your comments and enthusiasm. YOur name is on the list!

Connie Porter Saunders said...

I have a 7 month old granddaughter and thus is the perfect time to read John's insightful observations. She is simply amazing in what she already knows. Thank you for these posts and for this giveaway. I would love to win this book!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Connie, for your comment and entry. We can learn from our grandchildren, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Carol, Thank you and John for sharing such helpful information! What a great perspective to look at our writing from. I love the idea of embracing the absurd, the strange, and the weird!
Please enter me for the giveaway :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Kathleen, you're in!

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