Fueling Creative Effort

This is something I wrote around 2009. It’s a realization that I’ve kept reflecting on from time to time these past few years, and has influenced the way I encourage my kids in some positive activity. It’s a bit rambling – I’ve bolded the important parts.

Timmy had been working on building comic books for a while, but then lost interest. He still liked to tell stories all the time. He’s invented a super hero named Fireman (with some certain super powers that you might predict). He developed quite a number of episodes, but they’re all in his mind, they change a lot, and from my recollection the stories seem to change each time. Allison and I encourage him to write these stories out. I really felt this would help him develop as a story creator/teller. Understandably our encouragement didn’t turn into immediate action in this area. 🙂

Yesterday he went to the library and picked up a Hulk comic book. This morning I saw by his bookmark that he was almost through. Later I found him on the computer; he was using Notepad to type out a Fireman script. I excitedly read his story, then showed him how to use Word to add a little text style and correct his spelling mistakes. I’m really excited that he took the initiative to do this. I think writing out stories in Word will help with him develop his story creating/telling, help his spelling, get him a jump-start exploring the features of Word, and many other things, I’m sure.

What prompted me to write about this is what stimulated him to take this next step: He experienced something cool that someone else had created, and was moved by it to create his own thing along those same lines.

Now that I think about it, he had the same response over the Christmas break to board games. We played a few games, and before I even knew what he was doing he had created his own board game. It wasn’t very balanced — if you ran out of money you went to jail, and the only way to buy yourself out of jail was for other players to volunteer to give you money. But he’s made refinements since then that I haven’t had the opportunity yet to check out.

I have noticed the same response in myself. I loved board games, and made up a lot of them. One actually turned out pretty well, although it had a bit of a dark twist. The object of the game was to kill all the other players. On the back of a Chutes and Ladders board I drew a clue-like set of rooms with a square grid between rooms to travel. Each room had some game cards in it. The cards were either weapons, defense against weapons, or ammunition for the weapons that needed it. Each weapon had a range, so if you got within 3 squares of another player, and you had a gun and a bullet, you can shoot them. But if they had a bullet-proof vest then they’d remain in the game. Another weapon was the rope. If someone attacked you with the rope you’d be okay if you had the rope-defense card: the neck brace. Kinda silly. I remember playing it with my mom and dad; Mom was concerned, but played anyway. My Dad was less concerned, and I think had to admit that it was actually kinda fun. Since the game was transformed from Chutes and Ladders, I also decorated the game box. I crossed out Chutes and Ladders and wrote Murder for the title. The box originally had a bunch of kids running up the ladder of a slide, sliding down, then running back around to the ladder. I drew in weapons that the kids were carrying, so it became a bunch of kids chasing each other with knives, guns, and ropes.

Although the game definitely had a dark twist to it, I remember having a very clear conscience about the whole thing.

A little later I had the same type of response to video games. After playing a good video game, a fire was kindled in me to create a video game myself. Some of these fires would die out very quickly, stifled by the actual difficulty of creating these things. But a handful of them were seen through to creations of noteworthy significance for someone of my age at the time. These things would be my book, Future Experience, in fifth grade; the Murder board game; and Cirkup’s Quest, a platform video game written in BASICA.

I wandered around a bit with this, so I’ll note the main “breadcrumb” that I wanted to record here: the creative effort of others can inspire creativity in us and or kids.

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