Look What I Made!
A few weeks ago, I talked about the importance of practicing writing and how not every story you tell is going to be good. And how that's okay. This week, I'm going to expand on that.
I work part-time as an online content moderator and expert reviewer for a family-friendly storytelling platform. Which is a really fancy way of saying I read stories elementary kids turn in, tell them they did a great job, and suggest they not write their next story in all caps.
That job is hilarious. Sometimes, the stories are good. Ones I can't wait to read more of and I can tell that kid is going to be an excellent storyteller. Then there's other ones that just... don't make sense. I've read stories over 5,000 words that I cannot tell you what they're about for the life of me.
They turn in stories about people with a unicorn mom and a fairy dad (unsure how that works). Or angry raccoons who turn into angry pumpkins. Or Canadian tattooed vegan clothing bloggers (direct quote).
They can also put summaries and many kids use that to say that their story is the best book ever written and they're gonna be famous and probably win awards for it some day (no joke). Others say this is their first story and it probably sucks and sorry in advance.
Here's what I've noticed: the kids who say their stories are fantastic are usually the stories that make no sense. Or are grammatically a mess. Or are an 1,000 word paragraph in all caps.
The stories that say they'll suck are usually pretty good. They're also the stories that almost never get finished.
Those kids already think everything they create needs to be good, and if they won't be, they might as well not start. Those are kids who think like adults.
To kids: every idea is something worth sharing. They don't see what they created as dumb. They don't see it as bad. It exists and therefore, it's valuable. The kids who tell me their stories are amazing are the kids going "look what I made!" about drawing and play-doh sculpture, not the kids destroying them before anyone sees.
They're the kids, who, in the end, are going to be better writers.
Let that sink in. The kids who are proud of their work before they start are ultimately going to be better writers than the kids worried about making the writing good.
Kids who think like adults are doomed to never get anything done and therefore, never grow in their craft.
Which means adults who think like adults are also doomed to never get anything done. They're doomed to never grow. They will be so convinced that the end result will be terrible that they'll refuse to write the first word.
But what if we, adults, could make ourselves think like kids? What if we could go back to the mindset of showing our creation to anyone who will listen? What if we could go back to being proud of ideas we have, before anything comes from them? What if we could be willing to try without knowing what the end result will be?
I'm not saying you have to show people everything you write or that you should tell people everything you write is literary genius. That's terrible advice. I'm telling you to adopt the carefree, almost reckless mindset of a child.
Don't let the adult in you shut down your creativity. Go into each project with the bold mindset of the kids who tell me their all caps, no quotation marks story is amazing. Be willing to say "look what I made!" with the excitement of a child even if the only person you're saying that to is yourself.
And remember, the ideas that don't work out are giving you the tools to write the ones that will.
Do you have the mindset of a kid, or the mindset of an adult? How can you cultivate the confidence of your five-year-old self?