Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Last week the theme at HSB Front Porch was Children’s Authors and Illustrators, and in our Monday Musings we explored ways in which we can appreciate these creative people. As I finished that article, it occurred to me that a good sequel would be an article that explored ways we can encourage ourselves and our children to be authors and illustrators. We really do have it in us – whether we ever “get published” or not! ;)

Ideas for adults:

  • Write letters. I mean REAL, hold-in-your-hand, pen-to-paper letters – to family, friends, children, spouses. Then, do a few doodles or clip out a few pictures from a magazine to adorn the letters and envelopes. These letters might just become a keepsake for the recipients, cherished for years to come. My husband and I corresponded for years before we were married, and each kept all of the letters we received from the other. On one of our wedding anniversaries, we sat and organized them all chronologically – so now we have a documentation of our friendship and romance. While they still hold value for us now, I believe they will have even more value to our children in years to come.

  • Keep journals. Here are a few ideas that nurture the author and illustrator in many of us:
    • Gardening journals with little diagrams of where to plant next year’s flowers and food, as well as little sketches of how favourite plants are growing
    • Pass-it-back journals to be shared with a spouse, a child, or the whole family. When she was about 10, my oldest daughter and I began writing notes to each other in a journal that we’d leave for each other to find, read, and respond. Sometimes we’d doodle little illustrations to correspond with the content and demonstrate our affection for each other. At another time in our family’s history, we would take a weekly opportunity to write kind words to each other in a Blessing Book, and these notes would be read aloud at our Blessing Meal. Words matter, and this is a little way to use them for the edification of others.
      An excerpt from my nature journal
      Nature journals are a way to draw our attention to the wonders of creation and document the beauty in the world around us. If we don’t feel like we can draw well enough (though it’s a great opportunity to practise!), we can always take photos, print the best ones, and make simple notes about the time, place, sounds, smells, and sights we experienced.
    • Personal journals are, of course, ways to document our thoughts, feelings, hopes, and ambitions – and a good way to sort through the ups and downs of life. Little doodles and illustrations here and there help to label our emotions and experiences.
    • Prayer journals are another form of personal journals, with a little more focus. Entries help us to see where we’ve been, and how God has been working in our lives. Several times in the last 13 years I’ve returned to a particular journal entry in which I’d drawn a diagram of what I viewed all our parenting options to be next to a page of graffiti-like doodles exclaiming, “Kill my will!” It was that very evening that the door of my heart flew open when we were presented with the blessing of our first adoption. What an awesome way to be reminded of God’s answers to prayer!
    • Poetry journals might not be everyone’s cup of tea – and yet I think we tend to underestimate our own abilities to write powerful poetry. If we try, we’ll find ourselves in good company. It was by the creative power of the Holy Spirit that David was able to pen the psalms. When the Spirit of the Creator is allowed to work in us, we might be amazed at the words that wend their way onto paper. Even if the poetry remains under lock and key in our journals, it is a powerful way of wrestling with words that give our thoughts and convictions shape and form.
  • Record the stories of our children’s births or adoptions. I know my daughters especially have often pleaded, “Tell me the story of when I was born.” What a gift to offer them a written version for them to keep tucked away, perhaps to share with their own children one day. Photos or simple drawings would add to the memory bank, reminding the children of how they were and are cherished.
  • Scrapbook. I know this might seem like a stretch – but when you think about it, the purpose of a scrapbook is to keep a visual documentation of a time period, and it usually involves words and pictures. A scrapbooker writes about and illustrates (with photos and decorative elements) significant life experiences. In my books, it counts towards being a writer and illustrator! 
  • Write down some of those great stories you tell your children or grandchildren. And if you're interested in publication, I just found this interesting site.
 Ideas for children:
  •   Have little people write and draw in shape books. Apples, pumpkins, emergency vehicles -- there are lots of patterns available for free online. This makes authoring and illustrating so much more fun!
    Canada lapbook
  • Create lapbooks. Not only is it a creative way to write and illustrate, it's a great way to document learning.
A Letter from a pen pal

  • Find penpals for your children, and encourage them to write letters and send drawings to their penpals. It's especially great for homeschoolers to connect with each other.
  • Sponsor a child and have your children write letters to him or her, and send drawings and little paper projects as well. 
  • Write a family newsletter or newspaper and include drawings and photos. Truly publish this by sending it to friends and family.
  • Journals -- of course, these are great for children as well. If your stuck for ideas to encourage journaling, have a look here.
  • Create homemade books from scratch. You can start with plain paper, paper bags, a stack of note cards, cereal boxes, fabric -- you name it! Here are some more ideas to get you started in writing and illustrating homemade books.

 These are just a few ideas that we can use to jump-start the writer/illustrator in each of us. And when we consider that the Word was God, and the Word was with God (John 1:1) -- it should come as no surprise that, in the image of God, we are created to work with words and images.

What ideas do you have to nurture the author and illustrator in each of us?

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