Friday, April 30, 2010

Rediscover the Joy in Writing

I have a son in kindergarten who is just learning to read and write.  In spite of his lack of technical skill, almost every evening he joyfully grabs some paper, pens, and colored pencils or crayons and sets out on the task of creating a book.  Lately, all his books are about Bakugon (a kids' TV show), his current favorte obsession. He creates new characters, agnonizes over their characteristics, painstakingly "writes" his narrative, and creates elaborate illustrations to bring his ideas to life. Then he asks his father or me to staple or tape his book together.

No author on the New York Times Bestseller List is prouder than he is each time his new creation is complete.

Then he "reads" it to me (usually more than once) and he makes plans for how he's going to share it with his class the next day. And his eyes gleam with excitement the whole time.

Now he's after me to help him start a blog because he's convinced that the whole world needs to hear what he has to say, and he has a neverending supply of imaginative stories to tell.

The sheer joy he experiences when he writes inspires me every day.

I wonder when that creative joy of writing turned into "work." I think we rip the joy out of writing for children in school by constant focus on conventions and the writing process (including endless editing and rewriting),  rather than on content and creativity.  In his book, Readicide, Kelly Gallagher writes about how schools are killing reading through an over-focus on analysis.  I think we are doing the same thing to writing.

As adults, we have bought into the idea that writing has to be perfect or it's bad, and that only those with a particular gift can or should write. Non-fiction and technical writing (including grant writing) have been relegated to a level below fiction and determined (by whom???) to be less creative, less deserving of praise than fiction.

I have already written about the real payoff to grant writing - the opportunity to see the grants you have written as they are brought to life and really change peoples' lives. I have the honor of witnessing that over and over again.  I saw it again last night as I attended a public meeting and heard people talk about a very powerful program that made a difference in their lives - and I knew that two years ago, at about this time of year, it was all just a jumbled bunch of ideas in my head.  I put it on paper.  The government thought it was good enough to fund, and now it's real. Wow!

But even for those that are not funded, is there value in their writing?  Absolutely!

My son has discovered the sheer joy that comes from having an idea and using writing as a means of preserving and sharing it. The idea of tempering that joy with criticism or correction never enters my mind when he is sharing.  There is a time for analysis, and focusing on the conventions of writing, but that time is not when an author is in the flow - or experiencing the joy of creatvity.

Can you remember that joy?  Did you lose it?  When? How about trying to get it back?


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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.