Adventures of the Mind by Charlotte Lance
29 Sep 2022
There is something very comforting to me about the creative process of writing. Given the space and time, there is no rush, no push, no start and finish line. It's the opposite, really. It is a quieting of the noise of the outside world. All you have to do is turn inward and mill around your own mind and see what you find. And if you go quietly enough, there will be plenty.
At times, it can be a little dull up there, yes? For me, when I’m tired, over stretched and underwhelmed, what should be a head full of plump and colourful ideas is no more than a head full of cobwebs. Doesn't matter, because for no particular reason, there are those other times where small things sprout into big things, language feels bouncy and rhythmic, ideas hopeful and forward-moving. These hope-filled ideas don't have to be perfect, or funny, or life-changing. They can be quiet thoughts about people and the world, maybe your world or someone else’s. It's your mind to mill about, you get to choose.
Our imaginations are always trying to show themselves, and the less we get in the way the easier it is to see what's in there. For kids in a very distracting world, that’s even harder. It doesn't mean it's not there, it just needs a light shined on it. I think the process of writing is less about making hard and fast decisions and more about trusting that you have something valuable to say. Look inwards, instead of out. Wander through your ideas until you find what you're looking for, because you will.
The very nature of the creative process is that it is never one thing. It is also a process that demands you to go gently, it makes you move through one choice at a time. You can't snap your fingers and have a finished drawing or story. If you wanted that, you’d take a photo, buy a book, right? So you have to go through the process at a human pace. This actually makes it a very accessible task to undertake, even though it doesn't always feel that way.
Story Tools is a project that I feel very grateful to be a part of. I certainly had a few moments of hang on, my own process is a little bit sideways, I don't work to rules all that well (as a rule!) so how will I help to teach others to do so? Well, that's the point isn't it. There are no perfect ways to do any of it. There are no rules that could ever limit your ideas, and we’re all in this same boat, you, me and everyone else. The brilliant array of beloved authors and illustrators we have at our fingertips, show us that they too write, illustrate and create in all the different ways that you can imagine. Once they have something to say, they all have their own way of saying it.
If Story Tools can take those limitless ideas and encourage kids not to dismiss their ideas, but to play with them, build them and appreciate them, what could be better than that? For those kids who are natural storytellers - the ones telling jokes at recess, or funny anecdotes about dinner at grandma’s - take that funny moment, and develop your characters, open your story with a bang and mix up your plot line to really engage people! Or for those who are less comfortable offering a quiet piece of their imaginations to those around them, then the familiar faces of favourite authors or illustrators might draw out what is already in there and supercharge it with strategies and approaches that really work.
During the making of Story Tools I have been reminded over and over that the creative process belongs to the person doing the creating. Our own way becomes our own voice. This is what makes our story, ours. And this is what we need to put on paper - with just a little guidance from Story Tools, right!