Now don’t groan and roll your eyes. I know what you’re thinking. We’ve heard the advice about nurturing Inner Child so often that if it were a plant, this suggestion would be overgrown, gone to seed, and covered with powdery mildew.
Even so, it’s true. We have to remember that our inner artist is a kid straight from NeverNeverLand, refusing to grow up. Does that mean we can ditch deadlines and throw fits over disappointing royalty statements and sulk when our editor makes us rewrite?
(Only in the privacy of our home office!)
Nurturing Inner Child involves finding ways to sustain our artistic sense of wonder. It means supporting our ability to see a story in any situation, encouraging our imaginative leaps of intuition, fueling our passion for what we’re doing, and maintaining our faith that what we’re writing has value . . . even if only our mom reads it.
When a writer allows the tedium of writing to overwhelm the fun, then said writer is kicking Inner Child to the curb.
Writing when you’re burned out, jaded, cynical, dry of ideas, and passionless about the manuscript in hand means you’re hacking your way through the material. There can be no artistry. Certainly there is no joy.
To seek to create without joy is to sift ashes.
Never grow so adult, so sophisticated, that you inure yourself to that internal zing that signifies excitement about the work at hand. Never stand detached from emotion. Embrace it in all its forms, however messy. Don’t worry if nonwriters think you’re strange because you lose all sense of time in a bookstore or go dancing in the rain. (Nonwriters are going to think you’re strange no matter how you behave.)
You feed Inner Child by letting it play without rules and restrictions. If that means collecting comics from the 1930s, so be it. If it means taking an afternoon to pick out paint swatches for your dream office, do it. You don’t have to actually paint the room you work in. And you don’t have to feel guilty about whether or not you ever buy a paintbrush.
You shelter Inner Child by shielding it from any force that tries to ridicule or destroy it. One of the appealing aspects about the television show CASTLE is how it depicts Rick Castle’s character as a writer. In one episode, the mystery investigation introduced him to a steampunk club. Castle lit up with enthusiasm. Viewers saw Inner Child come to life. Before the show was over, Castle was playing in his writing office in a steampunk costume. Silly, you say? No, nurturing!
Taking care of Inner Child doesn’t make you any less of a professional. It doesn’t mean you aren’t disciplined or productive. It doesn’t turn you into a Bohemian or someone who talks about writing but never actually writes. Instead, it means you’re wise enough to value how hard Inner Child will work for you and how generous Inner Child will be to you when you treat it well.
Let Ray Bradbury be your inspiration. This remarkable writer has been nurturing Inner Child all his life, and it has in turn supplied him–and us–with a wealth of amazing, wonderful stories.
Come on! If you still doubt the merit of continuing to feed and shelter Inner Child, then answer this: are you really wiser than Mr. Bradbury?