Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Creating Creativity in Writing

It's so easy to stumble into ruts and routines, to do things the same way every time, to do things the way we've always done them. Especially in writing, a subject that can be very intimidating for student and instructor, it's easy to slip into the ruts, the ways it's always been done or always been taught. In my previous post, I wrote about different ways to tackle the brainstorm. Today, I want to help you step out of the box, climb out of your rut, and discover different places for your student to brainstorm.

Creativity happens in different places for all of us. Think about where you are when you get your best ideas. Is it in bed at night? Is it in the shower in the morning? Is it in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee? Children are no different, and sometimes a breath of something (anything) fresh can help a child exhale creativity.

Here are some fresh ideas to get you started:

1. Have a designated spot for "storming." Let your creative child make a sign and add embellishments to a corner of a room or wherever you have space. We recently moved our "corner" to a space underneath a built-in desk space—our cozy corner became our hidey hole. But it works, and the kids love it for reviewing flashcards and playing with their lapbooks. Eventually, my thought is to upgrade this to our "storm center."
Pinterest has some brilliant ideas for kid's nooks and spaces. Your designated spot could come with a designated pen and special paper, a favorite pillow, or whatever else will get your child excited about the process. Nothing squelches creativity like dread.

2. Change up the surroundings. This is easy, but it takes a little out-of-the-ordinary thinking. If you see your child stumped at the kitchen table, let him brainstorm under the table. Try under the bed, in an empty bathtub, in a closet, or under a shelf in your pantry. If it fits the writing theme—fantastic! But keep in mind that it doesn't have to; it can be wacky just for wacky-sake.

3. Go outside. Oh, how inspiring nature can be—the sounds, the smells, the cool breeze, the warm sunshine! Just make an announcement: "We're doing our writing assignment outside today." And you'll see creativity (and relief) just gushing in your child's exuberance.

As crazy as it sounds, it works for all of us. Some of my writing friends in college had the most bizarre spots for their inspiration. One of them loved to nestle into a small space next to the ice machine in the vending room of her residence hall. Another had her spot at the topmost level of the stairwell next to a window. Some of my classmates and, later on, some of my students couldn't think without typing into a computer, while others preferred the traditional scratch of pen on paper. In every case, there was always something out of the ordinary that helped break the bonds of writer's block.

Inspire creativity by helping your child create it. It really is silly, when you think about it, that we give a child a blank page, an ordinary pen, a straight-back chair, a flat table-top, and then tell them to create. That's the only option in some places of learning, but it doesn't have to be that way at home. Enjoy your own possibilities! And by all means, let's make "creating" a fun assignment.

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