Monday, March 30, 2009

Where's the Spark?

by Sarah Southerland

As a kid, it was easy to live in my imagination. My days were spent creating and recreating the world around me-- changing playhouses into castles, dogs into dragons, sand into burning lava. Using my imagination and creating were daily jobs, and I loved it. As long as I was creating, I was happy.

Fast forward many years. The need to create and use my imagination has never left me, though life frequently dominates my time. Instead of creating dragons and dungeons, I create dinner menus, clean bathrooms, and checks to pay off the bills. Normal life doesn't exactly leave me the same amount of "play time."

That's why I love writing for children.

The challenge is saving enough energy each day/week to use in writing creatively. Each of us must decide the best way to do that. Writing early, writing late, writing in short bursts of time between babies and bills and time clocks-- the key in all of these is TO WRITE. Life will never, ever automatically order itself so that you have ample writing time. No matter what stage you are in your life, writing takes effort and good planning.

I find that when I'm thinking in a writer's mindset (and anticipating my next writing session), I can see through more childlike eyes. The robin on the street, the gnarled tree branches hanging over a fence, a silly statement that makes the kids laugh-- all of these things become fuel for my imagination. They provide the spark that gets the fire going. Writing the ideas down keep it going.

Imagination will never come as easy as it did when you were a child. But that doesn't mean you're doomed to spend the rest of your life living in a world of starched shirts and ties, bills, oil changes, and carting the trash can to the curb. You can regain the sense of wonder and creation you held as a child, but, unlike then, it takes work. It can be done. All of us on this blog can attest to that.

Now, go create a great day! And watch out for that green-haired monster lurking behind the fence next door.


Scott said...

We're discouraged from living in our imaginations as adults. Somehow, growing up has become equated with not imagining, like our imagination is one of those childish things were supposed to put aside. In fact, we're told to start putting it aside as early as elementary school, with constant admonishments against daydreaming and coloring outside the lines.

Don't listen to them. Grab a coloring book and turn a page into something totally different. Other adults might decide you're nuts and they might not quite trust you, but it's the "nutcases" who change the world, not the strictly paint-by-number crowd.

Yamile said...

It's true, if we don't make the time to write, we'll never have time to write. Sometimes when I'm thinking at night, and I get a great idea, I hurry to make some quick notes about it, and usually, if I don't write them down I think about this newborn story all night and all day. The need to put it on paper or on the computer nags me incessantly, until I obey, and write it down. The satisfaction of creating something gives me a high that can carry me through kids' schedules, planning dinners and crying babies.