“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
During a rehearsal of one of his plays, Sir James M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, grew more and more irritated with the producer’s youngest son who was convinced he knew everything about the play he was watching.
The boy repeatedly interrupted the rehearsal to criticize one of the principals. After several outbursts, Barrie finally turned to him and said, “My boy, you will have to be more patient with us. After all, we are not young enough to know everything.”
Ah! If only we had the joyful confidence to feel that we were “young enough to know everything” and the joyful abandon “to paint like a child” — how free we would be! Our writing would bubble over with enthusiasm and playfulness. We’d have the courage to explore, to make mistakes, to get messy, to write for the sheer fun of it. Can we recapture our childish confidence and brio? A few ideas for bringing a sense of play to the page:
Just write: Sometimes free-writing is all we need to loosen ourselves up and brush the cobwebs from our brain. Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” are one form of free-writing; prompts are another. Or you can pick three words at random from a dictionary and spend 15 minutes or so weaving a tale around them to get your creative juices flowing — this works for me.
Think pink: Color is a great visual stimulant and can provide an instant psychic boost. Why not add it to your writing sessions? You can use different color inks on your computer for different characters or to highlight additions you’re making to a draft. Or you can use colored index cards or Post-It notes to jot down ideas or draw quick sketches of scenes with colored pencils. Just adding a dash of the rainbow to your writing may enliven it.
Are there any fun, playful tools and techniques you’ve found helpful in giving your writing a creative boost? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Write on!