The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: creativity

blizzard-snow-winterHere in the northeast, it’s supposed to be pretty snowy this weekend, and with no plans for us set in stone, we’re likely to be hunkering down inside as much as possible, watching the birds at the feeder in the backyard and likely a ton of PBS Kids programming. Maybe I’ll even make some popcorn.

That said, three kids inside all weekend long is a recipe for the “what can we dos?” or a case of the “I’m boreds.” Fortunately, we’ve found that one of the best tools in our arsenal is not a toy, or a show but a ream of paper. Well, and a box of crayons. Creativity can only go so far with a stack of blank paper and nothing to write on it.

Amid the drawings and makeshift storybooks that come out of the messy dining room table that doubles as an art studio is a fun littlegame our son enjoys that puts both of us to the creative test.

folded monster 01It was an activity we lifted from a magazine and recreated with just a blank piece of paper, folded into four sections, each with its own designation – head, body, legs, and feet. Whoever goes first, draws the head (of a monster, a robot, whatever) in the head section, leaving just a little bit of neck on the body section, then folds it over so the next person can’t see what’s drawn. The next person then uses what is exposed of the neck to draw a body and arms, leaving just a little bit onto the legs portion for a guide and again folds it over so the bulk of what’s been drawn so far can’t be seen. So on and so forth, until all four sections have been drawn.

Then, comes the big reveal, unfolding the paper to see what you two (or possibly even four if you wanted) have jointly, but blindly created.

Easy, fun and resulting some pretty wild stuff at times.

Give it a try. And if you do, drop an image or two in the comments and let’s see what you and your kids created!

folded monster 03

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© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporationAs years have passed and I’ve moved from high school student to college student, part-time worker to full-time worker, then full-time worker in the news business (which is a 24/7 business), becoming a parent (another 24/7 job), I have found my window of free time shrinking more and more. That has meant less time for family, fr friends, and for bring creative.

When you are drowned in your work from the moment you open your eyes, with emails, texts, calls, etc. until you go to bed at night, there is little time left for bonding, let alone to let your mind travel to that creative place it visited so much in the past.

I think that’s why I get so sad when I see old work or writings by my younger self.

I’ll be so proud at how imaginative it is. Then, I’ll realize how I haven’t been that creative in so long and I wonder if I’m doomed to a day-to-day hamster wheel that leaves my imagination outside of the cage.

WP_000088That’s why I leapt at the chance to take a workshop with writer J.M. DeMatteis back in May. With my wife’s encouragement, I headed out-of-town for a few days of creativity, writing and a re-awakening of something inside me thought to be long gone.

Called Imagination 101, I was among a small group of very talented individuals, spending our days, brainstorming, creating, encouraging and feeding off of each other’s energy. It was wonderful and it reminded me that if you don’t flex your imagination like a muscle, it will become just as flabby.

Even if it’s a little bit of time each day, it can make all the difference in the world. I admit it’s very hard to do, but I continue to try. I usually write after the little guy has gone to sleep or if I wake up on a weekend before he and my wife do.

What had happened over time was that, due to the lack of time, I would begin to look at a writing project that I once was so excited about as just one more thing on my to-do list. When that happens, it becomes drudgery, it became work.

If there is one thing for me to have walked away from the Imagination 101 workshop with, it’s that writing should be like play. If you can get back in touch with your nine-year old self and make whatever you’re writing the same kind of fun it was then, to make it like play, then your pilot light of creativity will never go out.

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I thank J.M. so much for his inspiration and the encouragement of those in the workshop with me – Noah, Raymond, Nicole and David – you all helped me go back to the ‘real world’ with a recharged battery and a rejuvenated sense of confidence in my creativity.

Like Golden Age superhero Johnny Quick and his magical formula for super-speed, J.M. gave us a formula to keep that fire of imagination going:

Imagination + Creativity = Play



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