Thursday, November 29, 2012

168/365: Writers Need to Daydream

Today I made:

a mental note to think like a child...

It's been a week of writing with young people. This is one of my very favorite things.
I began with a new tutoring student this afternoon. This fourth grade boy talked to me earnestly about where ideas come from. He described (in perfect fourth grade language) how writers can find inspiration in the tiniest nuances of our environment, like for instance, the ants that have infiltrated his classroom and the story he was inspired to weave around them. How very Walden-esk of him! By recounting his observations, he reminded me that writers need to daydream! Letting our attention drift once in a while can lead to discoveries of entire little worlds that would go unnoticed otherwise. I reminded him that the places we go to in our daydreams make for great story ideas to return to when we are stuck.

I've also been helping my ninth grade student this week with the completion of her first novel. She is participating in National Novel Writing Month with her English class. How cool is that?! I recently learned about this yearly challenge to write a novel in the month of November. I love this idea (maybe for myself in the future) and am delighted to find that high school teachers are using it as a project. It's been absolutely incredible watching my little friend go from having a staring contest with the blank page to creating elaborate characters and scenes out of her imagination. I've mostly been asking lots of questions and talking through the many choices writers can make. Together, we are learning to keep our audience in mind and to give our characters as much voice and personality as the characters in our lives have.

I can't think of many things more satisfying than teaching and learning about the creative process by writing with kids. Empowering a child to realize that they are creating something where there once was nothing with their own brilliant mind gives me the greatest warm fuzzies!

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