In my role as magazine Editor, I get to do some pretty great things; recently, one such was visit a primary school for a cartoon workshop with an artist who works closely with our magazine, the aptly named Cartoon Dave.
The kids loved Dave, and not just because of his bum jokes (although, there were a few). The main thing that drew them in was how simple he made the artistic process. The main part that drew me in, however, was the kids themselves. As soon as Dave said “You have about … 45 seconds to draw me a seahorse” they were all heads down, pencils up, working like the furiously creative tiny beings they were, resulting in – I kid you not – 60 odd AMAZING drawings of sea horses! With no exaggeration, these sketches were all unmistakably seahorse-ish and of a high quality.
I’ve tried some of Dave’s cartoon workshops before and I’m not ashamed to admit that my efforts are abysmal. I throw things out, screw things up and, on my zillionth effort, finally end up with an octopus that has the right number of legs and a roughly correct-shaped body, with one eye always smaller than the other and excessively long eye lashes (they make all my pictures prettier!). However, each draft takes me ages. The kids in this workshop created awesome seahorses (seahorseii? Seaheaux?) in seconds and everyone praised them for their talent, for doing good. They were confident enough to draw without any inhibition because they were innocent.
It got me to to thinking; how many of us put off chasing our dreams, writing our novels and drawing more seahorse because we’re afraid to do just that? We over-analyse every word, throw out that starting sentence and then, when we finally do have something we’re okay to admit we just-a-little-bit like, we hide it away in some obscurely named folder on our desk top, ensuring that even the creator will have trouble finding it should revisiting ever be deemed a possibility?
Perhaps that’s why events like NaNoWriMo are such a success. It encourages you to write, no matter what, to not care about your failures, to move past them and just get some God damn words on the paper! And I have to admit, in December and January, as I go back through my NaNo efforts, I without doubt will do some deleting. Oh, will that recycling bin be full! And I will do some editing; some story restructuring, some deleting of the word ‘that’, some correcting of text, some filling in of ‘INSERT RESEARCH HERE’ paragraphs.
But, without a doubt, I will also find a few things that I like. Sentences that I fall in love with. Comparisons I will think ‘Huh? I wrote that?’ about and plot twists that will make me go ‘Wow. Sh!t just got reeee-yallll.’
My point is this: maybe, we should all get back in touch with our inner child, and not just in a meditative sense. Perhaps, if we write without fear of judgment, purely for the sake of being creative, then good things will happen. We’ll be braver and produce stronger work. We’ll take that work to higher places because we can and because it deserves it.