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How to instill creativity in your children in three not-so-easy steps.

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Write a Book with Your Kids
  • How to instill creativity in your children in three not-so-easy steps.

You’d like your child to think, to explore, to imagine and create. It might take a bit of heavy lifting.

Do you know anyone with a crane?

Lucky for you, I don’t give up easily. In fact, I don’t give up at all.

  1. Goal: to get my son and his friend to work on a story for the upcoming (illustrated!) book #5 in the Li & Lu series.
  2. Challenge: he doesn’t wanna.

I had asked my son numerous times to “work on his story” with his friend. I knew I needed to ask in a different way (like not use the word “work”) or somehow make it more interesting, but I wasn’t finding the right connection. He wasn’t annoyed with me, he just wasn’t excited about it.

I needed a new tactic.

Don’t give up. You, hopefully, have more staying power than your kids. You can outlast their stubbornness. Besides, it’s for their benefit for you to win this one.

How to recruit your creative team, embrace technology and squash writer’s block.

I needed to find someone who wasn’t me. Someone to give the kids just that little head start from which they could continue on. I needed some¬†fresh blood.

I combined several new approaches that I decided to try out.

  1. Friend’s mother: my son and her own son love her. I need her help.
  2. Techno-bribery: the boys love being on a computer or tablet. I could fall back on my trusty Google Docs and use that as bait to lure them in.
  3. Kill the blank page: the blank page can be scary and intimidating. Creating from nothing can be stressful. So I started their story for them.
Write the beginning. Make it bad ... so they'll want to improve on it.

Write the beginning. Make it bad … so they’ll want to improve on it.

I created a shared Google document and invited my son and his friend to share the document. I also talked to my son’s friend’s (his name is Toto in the book) mom and ask for her help. She texted me later that afternoon that the shared thing didn’t work. It sounded like they weren’t going to try to take it any further. I pushed. I invited her email address to the shared doc and asked again (read: pleaded) to just try to get them to work on it for 10 minutes. She said she would. I didn’t hear anything more about it that day.

The next day, my son said, in passing, in his nonchalant way, “Oh yeah, we worked on it. We finished it.” Wait, what? You did what? You really did? You worked on it together with Toto? You finished?

They had. I jumped on my computer and there it was: the shared document with the opening scene of a story was worked on and finished. I read it and was surprised when I laughed out loud at the ending. They did it! They worked together on it and typed and created the end of the story–and it was funny!

The not-so-secret motive behind writing a book with your kids.

I’m not terribly interested in writing the great American novel. I’m not fascinated by the best-seller list. Sure, those are great and I’d love to achieve that (and, actually, I will), but my goals are parallel to those: I want to give my kids the gift of creativity. I want them to be able to create something from nothing. I want them to start and finish a project and own it. I want them to be proud of what they did. I want them to feel confident in their next project. I want them to want their next project to be better than their first and if it isn’t, to work on a third project. I want to get the ball rolling.

I succeeded. They succeeded. We succeeded.

Want to read their chapter? My illustrator is working on the drawings for that chapter and we’ll get a sneak peek to those on the mailing list.

  • Possible: wait for creativity
  • Impossible: force creativity
  • Repossible: incite creativity
By | 2017-07-06T14:21:01+00:00 May 12th, 2016|Parenting, Writing|2 Comments

About the Author:

Bradley Charbonneau was sitting with his 8-year old reading a bad children’s book when he said to his son, “We can do better than this … and you’re going to help me.” Then they did it. He hasn’t stopped since.

2 Comments

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