Guest post by author Deb Lund
I’m on a mission, and I need your help! My mission is to get everyone to claim their creativity. To do that, we need to start with our children.
Too many people think creativity is not for everyone. They struggle with their beginning tries at writing, art, music, dance, and theater, and declare that they’re “failures.” They’re “not good enough” and certainly “not talented.”
Where this really hurts is in learning to write. I know, because I was a teacher, and I teach teachers about teaching writing. Teachers want to do more with their writing workshops, but they don’t have the time to develop a better way to teach writing. They often end up relying on required curriculum that often does little to inspire their students, and may even turn those students off to writing, or at least convince them they don’t have any writing talent.
What is talent anyway? It just means something comes more easily for some people. Talent does not get you published. It doesn’t win you recognition for any of the arts. It might make the earlier steps happen a little more quickly, but I’ve seen a lot of “talented” people hit the wall and quit. All of a sudden, that “gift” they had isn’t keeping up. They’re not the best, and that hurts. And in the case of many students, it means they can’t call themselves writers.
I know that feeling. I’ve dabbled in all the arts and failed. When I first sent in a story to be published, it was rejected. I was 25 then. I went on to teach, to lead writing workshops, to teach teachers about writing, but I didn’t call myself a writer.
Fear of failure? Imposter syndrome? It didn’t seem likely that a plumber’s daughter from northern Minnesota could become an author. So, I avoided it by saying I didn’t have the time to write. But I read. And in addition to the fiction I read, I read countless books on writing, believing that would shorten my learning curve and maybe get me writing.
The only place I wrote was with my students. I projected my writing in front of them while they wrote at their desks. They’d look up, see me crossing out words, writing in margins, and revising stories over and over. We cheered each other on, and we called ourselves writers! Writers are people who write!
Remember how I didn’t have time to write? That ended when I was 40 and pregnant and I realized I’d never have time to write.
I tell students my stories of rejection, what I know about creativity, how I deal with my inner critic, “Miss Midge” (who says things like, “Who do you think you are?”). We take an oath giving ourselves permission to write the worst junk in the world. (You have to mine through a lot of rocks before you find the gems.) If you don’t take risks and stretch yourself in your writing, you might get an “A” on your paper, but it won’t be your best work. Your best comes when you learn to trust your voice, to trust that the chaos will eventually evolve into order. Writing, like all creative arts, takes persistence, passion, and patience. I’ve overcome a lot to cultivate those qualities, and I know how to help writers of all ages do the same.
As a teacher, when parents told me their child was a reluctant writer, I knew I could change that. The bio of an NBC news reporter states that he knew, as a student in my 5th grade class, that he wanted to be a writer. A newspaper columnist from that same class wrote an article about me being her hero because the whole class knew they were writers.
Even one school visit can make a difference. A sixth-grader wrote to me, ‘That inner critic kept saying that’s no good, scrap that. But I heard your presentation and I told that critic no, and moved on! I will always keep writing now that you have shown me ways to improve.’ My master’s project was on teaching writing, and my performing and creativity coaching have helped me take my writing teaching and motivation to new levels. Let me inspire your students. Let me show them that they are writers. Let me convince them to claim their creativity.
Please join my mission!
Author, writing teacher, and creativity coach Deb Lund is on a mission to get everyone claiming their creativity. She’s the creator of Fiction Magic: Card Tricks & Tips for Writers, which is 50% off until the end of January. http://deblund.com/debs-services/fiction-magic/
Deb dabbles in many genres, but is most known for her bestselling picture books Dinosailors, All Aboard the Dinotrain, and Dinosoaring, illustrated by Howard Fine. You can learn more about Deb at www.deblund.com.