Friday, February 10, 2012

Coloring Outside The Lines


I play with my best friend's daughter every day.  Hailey, almost two, loves to color.  But she doesn't have the dexterity to color inside the lines.  Does she care?  Well, no.  To Hailey it's all about the fun, the  discovery of new colors...how they look, how they blend together, even how they taste sometimes that intrigue her and inspire her to keep coloring.

Beginner writers are a bit like Hailey.  They are on the path to discovering the writing voice within them and sometimes they don't even know WHERE the lines are, much less how to stay inside them.  Yet they still are driven to color.


As Hailey gets older, she will learn the rules of perfect coloring.  Her skills will improve, she will listen to others that say "Don't color outside the lines". and she might even forget that coloring however she may want isn't necessarily a bad thing.


New writers are sometimes boxed in by rules of conformity.  There is so much great information out there on how to become a strong writer, but if one is not careful, a writer could color themselves into a box of such strict rules that all their creativity is lost.


How about, for today at least, writers are allowed to think outside the box?  Let's allow our  "inner child" to color however they wish.  Let the ideas flow without restrictions and see where they may lead us.  Or if we decide, maybe no colors are needed at all.


I went on my weekly school visits yesterday.  After reading to the children, I found myself outside one classroom and standing in front of a display board featuring Shel Silverstein's book The Giving Tree.  Since this is one of my all time favorite books, of course I was intrigued.  The teacher had put up two copies of the book...one in black and white while the other's pages were colored.  She asked her second grade class to write an essay explaining if the book was better in color.  One child simply wrote that the book didn't need color to be a good book.  Smart kid.

Writers should listen to those words of wisdom and apply it to their own writing.  We don't have to stay within the lines all the time.  Allow your mind to have the freedom to soar, get messy with your writing colors, and just imagine the wonders you can create!









20 comments:

  1. Great post! And something I periodically have to remind myself of.
    I'm a new follower, over from the campaign. Nice to meet you.

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    1. Ruth, I am astounded by the sheer volumne of work that you have published over the years! I can only say that I am honored to have you as a "follower"...thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  2. I like black and white movies. Sometimes black and white makes a better photograph. If the story isn't interesting, color pictures aren't very helpful. But you're not talking about just pictures, are you? Where would the fantasy genre be without the outside of box thinking?

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    1. Very good point, Janet! When my son was about 5 or 6 years old he was asked to model some children's clothing. I took some black and white photos for his "portfolio" and I have always thought those pictures turned out better than the colored ones.

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  3. Children who can't color within the lines often grow up to become professional artists. At least that's what happened to me. Have a great weekend.

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    1. I'm so glad to know that you did not forget how to color outside the box, Stephen! Do you still illustrate or are you focussing on your writing at this time?

      Have a great weekend as well...thanks for stopping by and come back again!

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  4. Great analogy, Donna :D I'm in that stage myself... I've put in the years of learning the craft, the rules... but am now trying to really *create* and step outside of that box and find my true voice. Thanks for this ;)

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    1. Thanks, Morgan, for stopping by! I have been writing on and off since I was about 8 years old but never attempted to write professionally until last year. As I learn more and more about the fine art of writing, I want to make sure I don't lose MYSELF in the process...know what I mean?

      Have a great weekend and come back any time!

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  5. Hi, I am in your write campaign group and I live outside of the box! ;)

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    1. Hi Jodi! Nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  6. What a wonderful post! I work with very young children, and I do love the way they see and explore the world. And as for writers--yes, I think having the room to explore is wonderful and necessary. But I also find that a certain amount of freedom is achieved by having mastered the basics. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah, for stopping by! I agree with you. When I returned to writing after 20 years I realized that I need more formal training to become a stronger writer. I just don't want to "train" the creativity out of me...;0)

      I hope you have a great weekend as well and please come back any time!

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  7. I like the way you remind us we have permission to get "messy".... actually thats what my dining room table looks like right at this moment.... so I moved the laptop out onto the deck sitting at this moment with the sun on my back and the breeze...lovely. Now to get down and messy with my writing... Thanks Donna.

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    1. Ahhh, I'm envious Diane! It's supposed to be in the teens here and maybe even snow flurries. But I plan on staying indoors, working on "interview" questions I received and work on revisions of my MG novel...maybe even take a nap...;0)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  8. Hi Donna, I just wanted to swing by and say hello! I'm in your group of the campaign challenge. New follower =)

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    1. Hi Amanda! Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  9. First of all, I *LOVE* that first image, with the little girl all covered in colors! Perfect. And this is such a good post.

    Are you familiar with the Harry Chapin song "Flowers are Red"? It's the same idea. I love that song, and it's a good thing, too, because I suspect I'll be singing it for a while now!

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  10. Lol, Beth...I thought this "artistic" twist would appeal to you! I don't believe I've heard that song before...will have to check it out...

    Thank you for your kind words. There are times when I wonder if I am really writing all this stuff...where do I really get all these ideas...and then like Diane says, I give myself permission to get messy with my ideas and then I let the fun begin!

    Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  11. What a lovely post! Just wanted to pop in and say hello. I'm in Group 1 with you and can't wait to read more! (new follower too)

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    1. Thanks, Alynza, for stopping by! I too write YA novels but am currently concentrating on PBs right now. I also do essays, MG novels, poetry...just whatever takes my fancy these days...lol

      I have never participated in the campaign before so I'm not sure what I am in for...;0)

      Nice to meet you, thank you for "following" me and come back any time!

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