If there’s one thing that homeschooling revealed, it was the general laziness of humanity. I saw it in my kids quite often, and I recognized it in myself as well.
Now, I’ve written about the Craft of Creativity before, and the fact that it takes loads of work to really hone something to make it good. No matter how many times I edit my book, whether it is Scar of the Downers or Rise of the Branded, I feel I could spend another year on the manuscript and it still wouldn’t be finished. I could always make it better. But there is a point where I must move on.
On the flip side, I struggle with a separate voice inside of me, which says, “It’s good enough.”
This is where my laziness comes into play.
When I’m working on a project, I want to hurry up and finish it. I see that same tendency in my children (though they have a more severe case.) To them, the idea of the revision is nonexistent in their minds. Every word they write, every drawing they create, is a Final Draft.
You could always make it better.
I know some of the reason for this is that they are still learning the basics of things. Their little hands got tired after writing their spelling list, because the act of shaping words with a pencil was still new, they still have to think about it. To get really comfortable at writing requires you to be able to do the technical aspects of it without thinking about it.
Kind of like acting in a play… you can’t do any real “acting” until the lines you have memorized are so deeply ingrained in your brain you don’t have to think about them. I’ve worked with kids doing drama – even teenagers have a hard time understanding this. It’s not art just standing onstage reciting lines. The art comes when the technical disappears.
To get to the point where you can make “art,” you have to go through a lot of drudgery and boring work. It’s this concept that separates the Artist from the rest of the world. The drive to want to create something pushes the Artist through the hours and hours of practice and work with no reward or pay.
It’s why the writer of plays is called a playwright - a wright is a worker, a craftsman, someone who has to sometimes beat something (like iron) over and over in order to make something awesome (like a sword).
It’s so tempting to do things “just good enough.” To think, well, this is okay, and it’s better than most people could have done, is NOT good enough. Practice makes perfect, and practicing requires discipline. Discipline requires motivation, and I think people are motivated when they are inspired.
So how can we find out what inspires your children? You have to get to know them.
Currently, I am directing a one-act play of mine and I see how hard my children have been working on memorizing their lines and remembering their blocking. They also see that you can’t just “wing it.” You have to put in hours and hours of rehearsal time to make something presentable. I believe all that work is paying off for them as well. They are recognizing that creativity doesn’t just happen. It is a long, strenuous process. To complete it, you have to be relentless.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.