Months ago, partly in response to reports on how many of our recyclables don’t actually get recycled, I started a creative bin. It’s an old basket into which I chuck clean cardboard, paper, and plastic. When the bin gets full, and when the weather is bad or the boys are under it, I pull out the creative bin and help them make their own toys. Some writing lessons I’ve learned from the creative bin:
1. Sometimes, you have an idea and search for materials to advance it. Other times, it’s okay to just rifle through materials and build something that feels right.
2. Fragile spots require patience and more glue than you think you need.
3. Pieces usually seem like one thing to you and another thing to others. If you make a truck, and explicitly name it as such, someone else might read it as a dinosaur. Be okay with that. Magic exists in the meeting of the two.
4. Guidance is good, but guidance isn’t everything. If someone suggests a roof? Listen. Maybe your creation could use a roof. But then if you think your creation demands three roofs, make three roofs.
5. Don’t feel like you have to stick to one style. Different tools and materials lend themselves to different designs.
6. There’s a time to stop structuring and start detailing. You can always go back to structure. In fact, details may lead to new structural moves.
7. Titles are usually hard.
8. When you see the materials of your life laid out on the table, you might feel exposed or even ashamed. This is normal. Just remember, lots of us buy chocolate Rice Krispie treats in bulk.
9. No matter what, when it’s time to put the creative bin away because dinner is about ready, something will exist that didn’t exist before. If you play with it for a while and, in the end, recycle it, that’s ok. Play is fun. Time to play is a gift. Time to play with something you made simply for fun is a privilege.