Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today is the 27th of November. For some of you, that means you have 27 ideas lined up like jewels on your desk. I have nothing to say to you. Keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing. Never mess with what’s working.
But some of you have only 17 ideas or 14 or [sigh] 9. Let me be frank. It is now time to panic.
Panic can be a great motivator. But there are two kinds of panic. Only one is going to be useful here. We want nothing to do with the kind of panic that says, “See, I knew I couldn’t do this. I knew I wasn’t the kind of person who could have thirty ideas.” Stop. Immediately. No one wants to be around you when you are like that. Especially muses.
We are going for an entirely different kind of panic. We are going for elevated pulse, eyes wide open, “well let’s try something completely new today because we have to get 15 ideas in the next 3 days and isn’t that going to be crazy fun” kind of panic. We are going for a “get out of your comfort zone and go drink the world in until it pours out in ideas” kind of panic.
So, here are 5 ideas for creative panicking:
- Are you sitting down at your desk? Why? That B.I.C. thing can be taken to an extreme, you know. If the ideas are not showing up at your desk, why are you still there? Why aren’t you out kayaking or dancing or sitting in a bubble bath? At the very least, you should be running through the halls yelling, “December is coming, December is coming.” People will just think you’re freaking out over holiday shopping so you’ll totally get away with it. But really, you’re signalling to your brain, “Today is not business as usual. Get out of your well worn little rut. We are going for a ride today.”
- Are you putting yourself where you can hear rhythm? We’ve already talked about dancing but you could also find some kids to play jump rope with. Play a clapping and rhyming game with the kids at the bus stop. Or climb up a tree and pay attention for awhile. The world is made of rhythms. So are a lot of picture books.
- Quick, who is your favorite illustrator? Go outside and look at everything as if it were one of their illustrations. What would that look like? What things would that illustrator notice or create out of what you are seeing? Try not to let yourself have words during this exercise. Just visuals. Then come back inside and pretend an editor has just called to say, “Edward Gorey/Diane Goode/Lane Smith/Pamela Zagarenski just called. They’d like to illustrate one of your books.” Write that book. Then pick another artist with a completely different sensibility and repeat.
- Wait, aren’t you going somewhere today to eat pie? This is perfect. Crazy relatives, frazzled toddlers, small children meeting Aunt Cora’s special jello for the first time. There will be stories there. Watch for them. Offer to entertain someone’s two year old. Remember what being two was like. Take all the young cousins out in the backyard and help them build a snowfort or rake leaves or play tag. They will love you for it. And you will find a story.
And if you aren’t meeting up with relatives for Thanksgiving, where are you going today? Because I’ll bet there’s a story there too.
- Look, the point is that panicking creatively is just about pulling out all the stops and flying at this task from some new angles. It’s about playing. So quit acting like such a grownup. When was the last time you sat down with some colored paper and cut it into shapes just because it was cool paper and you had scissors? When was the last time you laid on your belly in the grass and watched a tiny world go by? Have you drawn on your walls lately?
Loosen up a little. Grin like you have a secret. Play. Panic (creatively).
Mylisa Larsen has been telling stories for a long time. This has caused her to get gimlet-eyed looks from her parents, her siblings and, later, her own children when they felt that certain stories had been embellished beyond acceptable limits. She now writes children’s books where her talents for hyperbole are actually rewarded.
She is the author of the picture books, Instructions for Bedtime (Katherine Tegen Books, January 2016) and If I Were A Kangaroo (Viking).
You can visit her online at MylisaLarsen.com.
Mylisa is giving away a picture book critique!
This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:
- You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
- You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
- You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)
Good luck, everyone!