Last weekend my son and I participated in a stuffie making course at Patch Halifax, a sewing store. The first task was to draw the animal or creature that would become our stuffed animal. He decided we would make an alien. He quickly drew the alien and we made our pattern. Then he had a great time picking out the beads for the alien’s five eyes, the fabric nose and mouth, the ribbons for his grabber hand and foot, and the Eiffel tower for his shirt. We spent our remaining time sewing and stuffing our new alien friend. The finished product is an alien so unique I am confident there isn’t another like it in the entire world.
I learned a lot in that three hour course. I learned how to make a very basic stuffed animal. I learned how to do an invisible ladder stitch. I learned that my son will draw with pencil and paper if the motivation is just right. But perhaps the most important thing I learned is that creativity can be simple, and sometimes you need to just jump in head first and see where you land.
He didn’t spend hours agonizing over exactly how that alien should look. He took the paper and pencil and got right to work. He knew he wanted a humanoid alien so that is what he drew. It wasn’t perfect the first time, but we had an eraser to help us fix any mistakes. We had to adjust the drawing to make it work for a stuffie. A few places would have been too narrow for turning, we decided to use some ribbon instead of fabric for the grabber hand, etc. He adapted his design as he gained more information.
When it came time to add the accents he didn’t restrict himself to two eyes because that is what humans have. He wanted five, one above the nose and two to either side of it. He wasn’t worried about both arms matching exactly. One had three ribbon fingers (a grabber hand), and one had a piece of red fabric that may or may not be a canon depending on the moment. The finished alien is unique and already well loved by the little boy who created him.
I can’t remember the last time I jumped right into a story without spending hours agonizing over the perfect place or way to start. It is easy to forget that no book jumps from the writers mind to the computer screen ready for publishing. There are edits that have to be made both big and small. Lately I have also been scared to step outside my comfort zone. Scared to give an alien five eyes instead of two if you will. In a few days I start NaNo for the ninth time. I have little more than an opening scene planned out in my mind. I guess I can put my new lessons to work right away.
Do you struggle with letting yourself try something new? Do you over plan when you write or do you jump right in?