This post is about 400 words.
I’m at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, sneaking in whatever writing time I can in a house with eleven people, two dogs, and more leftovers than any one fridge could contain. Despite these distractions, I’ve spent enough years writing that I have some tricks for keeping the creative fires warm. Right now, I’m sparing some time for a post that serves as writing analogy and inspiration for building creativity in your children.
Last night, our youngest son Ben brought out the blocks I played with as a child, and suddenly I was writing this post in my head as I built with him.
My maternal grandfather made these blocks for me using 2x4s and some leftover paint. The basic blocks looked like this, though there were other lengths, too. With these, I could construct walls and forts and many other things as I played with my Star Wars figures.
But it was the oddballs that truly fueled my imagination. Call them scraps or discards, many would consider these pieces worthless. Clearly, my grandfather did not agree. Nor do I.
These pieces were all unique in shape and color. On their own, without the basic blocks, they were tough to build with: weird angles and curves do not make a solid foundation. As such, I was forced to create innovative uses for them. Backstory, to use the writing parlance.
- Who cut the groove into this piece? Perhaps it was salvaged from the ruins of some older structure?
- What purpose did that hole serve? Clearly that piece could serve as a door and a guard can use the hole to observe visitors.
As old memories and new ideas take shape in my head, I could go on and on with examples, but I think you get the point. With the basic pieces, you immediately know how to use them. With the oddballs, you have to get more creative to use every piece.
Whether it’s blocks or Legos or plastic models, it’s the diversity of the pieces that make the finished work more interesting. The same is true for writing. Using the same building blocks as everyone else will result in something unremarkable. Constructing your story using the odd pieces will set it apart.
Here’s to diversity.
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© Michael Wallevand, November 2016