Imagine an artist that produces somewhere in the neighborhood of five to twenty pieces of their best work each and every day without fail. Imagine this artist's skill, inventiveness and passion increasing by two to three times week over week. Unthinkable. We would definitely claim this person is genius in league with Da Vinci, Nichola Tesla, and Ben Franklin. We would certainly envy their creative output and try to reverse engineer their processes desperately trying to unlock the hidden secret to their effortless output. Scientific studies would be done. Headlines would be written. Interviews conducted.
The artist I was describing above is actually my 4 year old son, Moses. Each and every day, he wakes up with a burning passion to make stuff. Usually it’s dinosaur drawings but sometimes lego villages or clay figures. He is a creative powerhouse and he isn’t the only one. Each of my kids who is old enough make unbelievable amounts of art each week and spend a large majority their time engaging in creative activities (imagination, story telling, inventing things, etc). As an adult with a job and responsibilities, I often envy the freedom and pure joy kids have while just being themselves.
Before you read on thinking that this is me just being a dad, I don't think my kids are that out of the ordinary. I believe that most of us hit our creative peak around age 4-5. From my observation, this seems to be the perfect combination of brain development, focused play time, lack of censorship, and wonder needed to be a prolific maker.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the three things that usually prevent me from making things are the inverse of what allows kids to thrive creatively. Sometimes I believe the lies that I’m not talented enough, don’t have the time, or should worry about what someone else will think. All of these have played their part to slow down or stop me from following the urge to make something.
One of the reasons why we homeschool our kids is to give them the opportunity to learn in creative areas they normally wouldn’t be encouraged to explore. Anna and I try to take every moment we can to create together. An example of this is working with June on her songwriting. As they grow and become adults, society will tell them to focus on other, more productive pastimes. But for now, while they are small, it’s been such a joy to let them play and discover.
So here is my simple application: create like a four year old. Don’t worry if it’s perfect. Don’t worry about what someone else will say. Sometimes you don’t even have to worry about why you are making something — the act itself is enough.
Special thanks to Anna and my kids for helping me write this. Love you.
Hey Mose. Terrific draftmanship! All your animals and fish are going left. Do you know any conservative dinosaurs who go to the right? And how about the air force...our friends the birds? And Junie can you get the spectrograph to work? It's pretty difficult for old people like me.
WOW, love the insights here! (And you must know that M's artistic talent is way out of the norm for a kid his age. Truly amazing.)