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1/25/13

Don't Be Afraid to Write

Here's the initial first draft of the book cover.

I'm re-writing the first half of Keeper of the Creatures and I have to turn off this nagging voice that says, "John, that might be corny" or "hey, that's a bit cheesy." There's an inherent fear in the first draft phase and it is predominately a fear of coming across as cornball. It's the fear that it might come across as juvenile.

Initially, I wanted to delete the "mobile messages," which were essentially papers that come to life and flutter like butterflies and swoop down like origami cranes. I fought back the "this is corny" voice that laughed at the main character's name (Lucas Drackenburger). When creating another character Lydia, I felt this need to make her less distinct and less boisterous. 

As I work on my re-write, I am glad that I've silenced the inner critic. There will be a time for sharp analysis and heavy editing. But in this fragile stage, where the story is still coming together, I need to avoid the fear of a story that might not seem as sharp or witty or whatever it is that writing is "supposed to be."

It's easier for me to face the fear when I remember that this book is for Joel and Micah and Brenna. However, I am realizing that my initial impulse to keep the book private and to avoid self-publishing was less about privacy and more about a fear that people might laugh at it.

So, I take this back to my classroom. I wonder if the reason kids struggle with writing is the vulnerability that is required in sharing one's voice. I wonder if the reason we don't see as much creativity is that there is a risk in all creative ventures and students are often risk-averse. It has me thinking that in making writing so safe, I haven't done enough to push students to write courageously and face their fears in finding their voices.
JOHN SPENCER
Professor of Instructional Technology
I want to see kids embrace creativity. As a teacher, this meant murals, documentaries, STEM camps, and coding projects. As a dad, this has meant elaborate pillow forts and home-made pinball machines and the story of non-magical wizard who makes robots. It's also why I co-founded Write About. Interested in having me speak or consult on design thinking and creativity? Visit my speaking page and fill out the contact form at the bottom. I'll get back to you within 24 hours.

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