Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Inspiration


We all need a little inspiration now and then, right? I’ve been busy with school and library visits for the last few weeks. These are always fun, but every so often a visit becomes more than fun. It becomes inspiring. Here’s an example . . .


A couple weeks ago, while chatting with fourth-graders about their writing and my writing (swapping thoughts and notes and such), I shared how writers sometimes talk about the importance of putting a character up a tree (meaning get that character in some serious trouble). I, of course, added that after a character is in a tree, a writer should throw rocks at that character (meaning hit that character with even more problems). The kids hadn’t heard this before, so we had a good time chatting about this visual in relation to our stories.


About a week later, an email from the librarian from that school pops up in my inbox. Apparently, these amazing young writers had been drawing trees with their story characters in the branches. And then, these clever writers cut out rocks from cardboard and labeled each with additional story-related problems to “throw” at their characters in the trees. Taking this exercise even farther, these crafty writers took turns sharing their stories with each other while displaying their characters in the trees along with the assorted rocks. After listening to each story, the audience suggested even more rocks to throw at each character. How brilliant and fun is this?


The librarian ended her email to me by very sweetly writing “You truly inspired us!” The truth is, they inspired me.


Now, I'd love to hear how you have been inspired lately.

22 comments:

  1. That is brilliant! Talk about awesome, that they took your concept a step further. You can use this as well as a classroom exercise in future talks, too, making the lesson visual. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's funny you should mention using this as a classroom exercise, Angela. As I was writing the post, I thought the same thing. This would make a great writer's workshop, I think. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow. Now I'm inspired. Being a visual writer, this is a great way for me to add challenges for my characters. Thanks for sharing. (And what a wonderful confirmation of a successful visit!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is a great idea, and even better when seen on construction paper. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a cool idea! Definitely a great way to get young writers thinking. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Aw, that was so sweet about the kids drawing and then creating the "rocks."

    I've been looking at a lot of visual art lately. It's funny how other types of art can inspire.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That is a WONDERFUL teaching idea! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm inspired! This is something any writer could use, particularly those of us who are visual. Love it! And yes, it would be wonderful in a workshop or classroom. I think it would help bring the kid out in the adult.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks, MG! It really was a wonderful visit. The kids were so enthusiastic about writing.

    Too true, Lydia. And let's not forget the beauty of crayons, either. : )

    The tree and rocks thing really did get the kids thinking, Sabrina. I didn't expect such a great response.

    Karen, our posts sort of complimented each other this week--the whole visual art thing in terms of inspiration.

    Thanks, Shannon! I'd love to see kids actually drawing their characters in trees and writing problems on rocks.

    Great to "see" you again, Bish! I'm glad you're inspired. : )

    ReplyDelete
  10. The childrens' approach kinda reminds me of mind-mapping, which in a way it is. Nothing wrong with being visual as they pile on the problems for their characters.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a sweet e-mail to find in your inbox! And very inspiring. I may have to try this for myself. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This post gave me chills. Can you believe the impact you had on those kids? That's probably something they'll always remember. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow, that's true, J.L. This exercise really is a form of mind-mapping. Great observation.

    You're so right, Janet: It was a great e-mail. Let me know if you try this. Why not? : )

    Aww, chills are a good thing, Julie. It's funny what makes an impact. At the time I talked about the character in a tree thing, it never occurred to me that this activity would come out of it. Such a nice surprise.

    Thanks for the wonderful comments!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Awww, that is amazing!!! You really got through to them!
    Kelly Polark

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a great story! It sounds like you really made your point in a way they can understand and will remember.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks, Kelly!

    I hope so, Susan. It certainly was fun the way everything worked out.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Cynthia, what a wonderful classroom visit. That illustration is adorable. And believe it or not, I hadn't heard of that analogy before, but I like it! I tend to shy away from conflict and have to force myself to be sadistic to my characters. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is a wonderful story. You took these kids' minds to a different level.

    Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great story. Now, I am inspired.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks, Eve! I agree that it can be hard to torment our characters, especially when we like them. But, the more rocks the better, right? : )

    Thanks, Medeia! Kids are so great--so full of surprises.

    And thanks to you, too, Maeve! And welcome! I'm glad you found this inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  21. It must be so inspiring to receive this kind of feedback. I love the artwork!

    ReplyDelete
  22. It really has been inspiring, Shannon. I'm looking forward to trying this out with a bunch of kids in a writers workshop. Thanks for stopping by. ; )

    ReplyDelete