“Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then
artists come along and discover it in the same way all over again.”
Maurice Sendak, the whimsical author and artist, said something very revealing and helpful about the wellspring of his creativity. He said that he didn’t believe “that the kid I was grew up in me. He still exists somewhere, in the most graphic, plastic, physical way…I communicate with him — or try to — all the time. One of my worst fears is losing contact with him….at least once a day I feel I have to make contact. The pleasures I get as an adult are heightened by the fact that I experience them as a child at the same time.”
He went on to say that when his work was going badly, he tended to “reject” his inner child’s collaborative help — and then became depressed. But somehow, he would work through this stage, and would fin that “When my excitement about what I’m working on returns, so does the child. We’re on happy terms again.”
Sendak had a style all his own in creating his artwork and stories for children — and we may be pursuing very different quarry in our writing. Even so, tapping into the playful, intuitive aspect of ourselves that Sendak described — the one that loves to explore, to experiment, to delve into things and get messy — can be very important to our writing. This is especially true in our first drafts, when the goal is to give free rein to our creativity.
Sometimes the best way to entice our inner kid to collaborate is to give him or her something to play with! Using gaily striped folders, colorful index cards, different colored pads for jotting down notes, beautiful journals, and even unusual typefaces on our computers, are all easy and fun ways to invite that innocent, intuitive, and imaginative part of ourselves to come out to play. Have you ever tried this? If so, did it help?