Thursday, August 15th, 2013
As a longtime writer, I adore the famous creativity expert Julia Cameron and her seminal book, The Artist’s Way. I read it over and over in college as I tried to write colorful essays and stories. I still wake up a few minutes early to write three longhand (completely sloppy) pages of random stuff, an exercise Julia calls Morning Pages. Her tips, tricks and wisdom can add momentum and energy to your work and your life.
Finally, after years of requests, Julia has written The Artist’s Way for Parents. Use this great guide to increase creativity for your children–and for you, too. She says when adults get that vibrant energy flowing, inevitably kids will too. She also thinks we’re all too over-scheduled. So go ahead and do it: Just say no to that next activity, and use that time to stoke your creativity.
I was honored to interview Julia Cameron. Below, see what she has to say about playtime, boredom, technology and more.
KK: Do you think we over-schedule kids today? Do you think we often forget to give them the opportunity to be creative?
JC: Children today are often over-scheduled. In our desire for them to do well, we frequently demand that they do more. A violin lesson, a math tutor, a French class, a soccer match–all these and more are crammed into our children’s lives. Conspicuously missing is free time, time for the imagination to play.
KK: Why is creativity so important for children to cultivate and experience?
JC: Creativity brings happiness. Children experience the joy of living through developing their creativity.
KK: How is the Artist’s Way for Parents different than the original Artist’s Way?
JC: The original Artist’s Way focused on the nurturing of the self. The Artist’s Way for Parents focuses both on nurturing the self and nurturing the children in our care.
KK: If a busy new mom only has time for one creativity exercise for herself, which one would you suggest?
JC: Morning Pages–three pages of longhand morning writing that connects us to ourselves.
KK: Why is it important that she continues to explore her own interests?
JC: Continuing to explore her own interests keeps the new mother from feeling stymied and trapped.
KK: What’s a fast and easy creativity exercise for a mom and child to do right away?
JC: Mother and child can play the game of “Highlights”– each naming and describing the high point of the day.
KK: What are some of the ways that parents unknowingly limit their child’s creativity – and what are some ways that they can break this cycle and start encouraging their creativity?
JC: Over-scheduling their child’s time, far from improving their lives, actually damages them. Scheduling an hour of free time strengthens their imagination. When children are free to concoct their own diversions, they develop passionate pastimes. As they play with dolls or toy horses, they make up stories. These stories are often deeply imaginative.
KK: How can technology and our many digital devices (iPads, computers, TVs, etc.) be blocks to creativity?
JC: Technology teaches passivity. Absorbed in our devices — at any age– we are absorbed in someone else’s perspective.
KK: What are a few of the activities you did with you mother that really encouraged you to play and be creative?
JC: I would say crafts connected to holidays: Easter eggs, Halloween goblins, snowflakes, valentines.
KK: You write that boredom is nothing more than a “call to action.” So when a child complains of boredom–how should parents respond?
JC: Setting out playthings and then leaving the child alone is the trick. Don’t try to “fix” the child’s boredom–rather, let the child find his or her inner resources.