Children are such a great example to me. This week I had an interesting experience with my daughter that really made me think about my writing. She and my son were playing together, I'm not sure exactly what they were pretending, but they were 100% invested in their play. It came time for clean-up, so I told each of them to go clean their rooms. Without skipping a beat, my daughter sticks out her hip, puts her hand on it in a very dramatic fashion, and says to me, "OK Mrs. Haskin!" I just had to laugh! She then walked off, with a sassy swagger, to her room. It just amazes me how easily these kids can incorporate anything into their play. When children play, they adapt so easily to changing situations, others' ideas, and outside influences. There are usually two outcomes when someone introduces a new idea into their play. Either they adapt and play right along, or they fight. If they adapt and go along, they are led in a new direction, new ideas of their own and a whole new line of thought and play. If they try and force their own ideas onto others, or are unwilling to change along with the newly introduced ideas, they fight, play stops, and is usually accompanied by anger, frustration, and disappointment.
We found we could relate this to our writing. There are times when we feel like we've hit a wall and we fight the direction of our story. Something unexpected pops up and because it was unplanned we try to avoid it or ignore it. Often times when this happens we end up fighting that wall or in other words we encounter the dreaded writer's block. I'm sure we've all been there, staring blankly at our computer screens or notebooks, our brains feeling a bit fried or compressed. How can we avoid this? Perhaps the answer is as simple as doing as our children do. Adapt. Allow the new ideas to play out, build off of them. What's the worst that can happen? If this new direction doesn't work out you can always delete and try again.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I tend to be an excuse maker. I can find an excuse for almost anything, especially when it comes to writing. In this case when writers block creeps in and I'm forced to adapt, as we've suggested above, I might make the excuse of "A child's imagination is so flexible and can stretch. Things don't have to make sense when they play. We, as adults, have imaginations that perhaps are more brittle and rigid and must comply with certain rules. We have to be consistent and rational." See, pretty good excuse, right? Wrong. As much as I want to convince myself of this it's not true. Just because we have to follow certain "rules" when writing doesn't mean we have to always reign in our imagination and creativity. Sometimes when I let my imagination go wild it takes me on a journey that ends with a great idea and an answer to my writing conundrum. There are times when we have to sort through some pretty crazy and ridiculous ideas to find that little gem that fits perfectly within our WIP.
Remember that sometimes the most unexpected things can lead to the greatest adventures!